Open Leadership

“Power to the People,” by John Lenon was released nearly 30 years ago. It’s coming true today.

When power is viewed as a zero sum game, empowering one group disempowers another. Furthermore, power for one destabilizes others. In my opinion, viewing power as a zero sum game is the main reason top-down, command and control organizations are afraid of social media.

Charlene Li’s book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, begins with, “Why Giving Up Control Is Inevitable.”

Business leaders are terrified about the power of social technologies, but they are also intrigued and excited about the opportunities,” (Open Leadership, p. 7). My experience includes another group of leaders, the ones whose eyes glaze over when the topic of social media comes up. I feel like saying to this group, “Give it up, the 8-track isn’t coming back.”

Li’s book is foundational for anyone interested in leading in a world radically changed by social media. Notice the past tense, “changed.” It’s true, social media is changing the world. More importantly, with over 10% of the world’s population on Facebook, it’s already profoundly changed the way we think about communication and relationships.

In view of social media tools that radically empower customers and employees, Li offers five rules that govern how new relationships work in the business world.

  1. Respect that your customers and employees have power.
  2. Share constantly to build trust.
  3. Nurture curiosity and humility. (In leaders and managers)
  4. Hold openness accountable.  Explain the extent and limits of openness. List consequences when social media is misused.
  5. Forgive failure. “Things go wrong all the time in relationships and the healthiest ones move on from them, …”

More from “Open Leadership,” tomorrow…


Which of Li’s 5 rules do you find most challenging or exciting?

How do you see social media changing leadership?


Don’t miss a single issue of Leadership Freak, subscribe today. It’s free.  It’s private.  Go to the main page of Leadership Freak by clicking the banner at the top of this page, look in the right-hand navigation bar, enter your email and click subscribe.  Your email address is always kept private.  Note:  if it doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter for a confirmation email.


Related Post: Open Leadership – Some Sanity