Open Mindsets

I recently read Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li (she also co-wrote Groundswell). It was an interesting book… some really good thoughts. [Charlene/her publisher sent me the book – thanks Charlene!]

Before I get into those thoughts, a couple of things I didn’t like about the book:

  • The title is misleading – the book really isn’t about social technology. At all. It’s about transforming the way you lead through open leadership. Social media and technology is mentioned a time or two … but it’s not the tech that makes the examples and the stories in the book work – it’s the leaders and the way they manage.
  • Charlene pretty much focuses on really large, international corporations. Sure, a couple of smaller (but highly visible) companies are mentioned, like Zappos. But mostly, the examples involve for-profit corporations with thousands of employees, branches in 30 different countries, etc. For those of us who don’t work in large corporations (i.e., most of you reading my blog) – you’ll have to do a bit of translation work while reading.

Otherwise, a pretty good book on a tough topic – that of guiding leaders to be “open.” Which leads me to the title of this post – Open Mindsets. From page 8 – “… the biggest indicator of success has been an open mind-set – the ability of leaders to let go of control at the right time, in the right place, and in the right amount.”

Wow. Easy to say, hard to do, huh? She goes on to list some rules of open leadership (pgs. 14-15):

  1. respect that your customers and employees have power
  2. share constantly to build trust
  3. nurture curiosity and humility
  4. hold openness accountable
  5. forgive failure

… and the rest of the book gives plenty of examples for accomplishing leadership in a more open way.

Definitely worth a read! Did you read it? If so, what did you think?

  • Civillibrarian

    And even when a manager attempts to the five rules above, if there exists in an organization an ingrained culture of “management makes the decisions”, staff will have a hard time accepting that times have changed. I’m pretty new to my position and have been really trying to develop a more participatory environment; I’ve met with measured success.

    One example of how folks still aren’t necessarily buying is our current strategic plan implementation process. Because all staff can’t come to the meetings on this topic, I’ve set up a wiki where meeting minutes are posted on the same day the meeting took place. I’ve repeatedly encouraged staff who aren’t “on the committee” to use the wiki as their opportunity to participate just as fully as anyone else. So far, not a whole lot of activity, though.

    Perhaps the hardest part isn’t putting “open leadership” into practice but to realize that it will likely take a while before efforts in this direction are really seen as authentic. It won’t happen overnight.