Open Leadership on Transparency

One more post on Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, by Charlene Li. This time on transparency.

I hear librarians talk about making the library “more transparent.” Or library staff saying “management needs to be more transparent.” What does that mean, exactly? Posting minutes from a meeting? having an “open door” policy?

I like how Charlene redefines transparency. She says (on pg. 193):

Rather than actually using the word “transparency,” which implies complete openness and candor, I prefer to describe this skill as making information and processes “visible.”

Maybe it’s just semantics, but visible makes a lot more sense to me than transparency. Transparency seems passive, visibleness seems active.

So, how does my library make our information and processes visible?

  • all our policies posted online (actually, you’d be surprised how many libraries don’t do this), as are our financial and board meeting minutes.
  • most of our website’s pages include a comment box and/or multiple ways to connect with us … and we answer those comments promptly.
  • Our weekly management meeting notes are shared with staff on our staff intranet (again, with a comment box).
  • We tend to include all levels of staff in workgroups. For example, I head a digital branch taskforce – members range from deputy directors to paraprofessionals, and pretty much everything in-between. And we share out our notes with staff.

What are ways YOU make your information and processes visible to staff and to customers?

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?