How to Be a Leader in an Age of Information Overload

The privilege of leadership used to belong to a select few. The social elite. The especially charismatic. The unbelievably successful. You used to have to be the head of your own organization. Or carry a prestigious title. Influence was earned slowly over time. And few had access to it. But now, that’s all changed.

Information Overload
Photo credit: Jorge Franganillo (Creative Commons)

In the age of ideas when the exchange of information is as easy as a click of the button, anyone can be a leader. In the traditional sense, leadership is dead, and influence has replaced it.

So what do you — someone who wants to lead — do?

Become a thought leader

There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!
—Cosmo, Sneakers

Start a blog. Launch a podcast. Begin recording videos of yourself and posting them on YouTube. Share your ideas with the world, and see which ones spread. This is what you need to do to see your influence grow.

In the age of the iPod, when we have instant access to gigabytes of teaching for free, the person with the best data (not the most) wins.

We don’t need more information. We need better information. We need compelling reasons to believe in a cause worth following. And those sharing them will be the leaders of tomorrow.

So where do you begin?

How about with collecting information? With becoming a learner (again)? As they say, “leaders are readers.” But leaders are also conversationalists and event attendees.

They take people out to coffee and make friends at a party. Introvert or extrovert, they put themselves out there. And if you want to lead, you will have to do the same.

Be honest. You don’t need more information. You need better discernment. I recently heard Alli Worthington share the following:

I hate it when people say they don’t know how to do something… Have you heard of Google?!

We all know this. Still, we struggle with knowing what information to believe or follow. So many choices, so little results. We just get paralyzed.

We need a process to curate. To figure out what works for us and what doesn’t. This is why I love organizations who demonstrate excellence of thought leadership not only through their example, but also through organized efforts to bring ideas and leaders together.

If you’ve never been to the Chick-fil-a Leadercast, it’s an event worth checking out. In the past, they’ve featured speakers like Seth Godin, Pat Lencioni, and Robin Roberts.

If you’re in Nashville, I hope you can join me for it (there are other locations, as well). My friends at local radio station WAY-FM were kind enough to give an exclusive discount (just for my readers). For more about that, check out this link (use the promo “goinswriter”).

Free Kindle?!

That’s right. You heard me. Free. Kindle. Since getting mine, I’ve been reading and learning a lot more.

As a way of helping you build your knowledge base and become the thought leader you’re destined to be, I’m giving away a Kindle to a lucky commenter today. Here’s how you can enter:

  1. Share this article. You can do that via Facebook or Twitter (click the links or use the sharebar.)
  2. Leave a comment. Answer the question below and include your email.
  3. Wait. I’ll notify the winner in a week. If you don’t hear from me, you didn’t win.
  4. Respond. If you don’t reply within 48 hours, I’ll pick a runner-up.
Update: The contest is now closed.

What’s one leader you’d love to meet in person (living or dead)? Share in the comments.