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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Marshall Goldsmith
Executive Coach/Author

Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is an executive educator, speaker, coach and best-selling author. His most recent book is Mojo.

The blessing and curse of social media

Question: Through the effective use of online social media, a small group of political amateurs were able to organize and instigate street demonstrations across Egypt that now threaten to topple the Mubarak regime. How does their success change our notions of what leadership in the Internet age is all about?

Online social media can help large-scale social movements get organized and activated in an amazingly effective manner. This is both a 'blessing' and a 'curse'. The good news is that online social media can be used to inspire masses of people to achieve worthwhile ends. The bad news is that online social media can be used equally effectively to manipulate masses of people and cause huge problems. Who knows where the situation in Egypt will end? Twenty years from now, we will have a better perspective on the positive and negative ramifications of what is happening this week.

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By Marshall Goldsmith

 |  February 8, 2011; 10:15 AM ET
Category:  Pop culture Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Making social media stick | Next: Fear and the Internet


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As noted by many other panelist views and comments, the influence that the media can play on framing issues in both positive and negative ways has become pervasive. What may start off as a small piece of information, casually shared between Internet assessors, can now be spread across continents at a lightening-fast pace. The challenge then lies in the retention of control. Leader in the age of the Internet requires constant vigilance and preparedness to act in the case when things start to sour.

What a successful leader will do and what the “amateurs” of Egypt were able to accomplish is the proper wielding of the tool. The Internet method for mobilization and general fluidity of knowledge does not and cannot define the leader, but instead it allows the leader one more avenue of contact. Insightful reading of the responses of the nation or the audience that the particular leader is reaching out to, will aid in the process of wielding the Internet tool properly. The Egyptian political group that has caught the attention of the world, used the pervasive nature of the Internet to their political advantage, and have thus, brought the world to the closest new media source.

Posted by: sherrylin | February 11, 2011 3:49 AM
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The internet has been a major forum for the masses to not only voice their opinions but view the opinions of others. Leaders are virtually made overnight as their views and initiatives can be seen worldwide. With millions of users and an innumerable amount of stages for people to communicate, these leaders can gain followers without ever having to leave the comfort of their own home.

Although the internet has brought knowledge to an ignorant public and opened up a world of possibilities in all industries, it has created a world in which becoming a leader, good or bad, takes no more effort then posting any idea online. As we have already seen in Egypt this power gained by the individual from the internet can and will be a major actor in shaping the future. In the age of the Internet we will see the voices of individuals speaking louder then we ever have before.

Posted by: NajiMcFarlane | February 11, 2011 12:06 AM
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