Open Leadership


Here is a new idea for you to consider.

In a world where smartphones, tablets, blogs, wiki’s and various social media outlets are changing the very nature of how we interact, how does this technology impact your behavior as a leader? How do you leverage these technologies to enhance your communications and leadership strategies for deepening relationships with co-workers, customers, and suppliers?

In today’s Facebook-ready world, there are new ways for us to:

  • Learn about the world around us, (by looking at what others are saying and thinking)
  • Engage in dialogues with people in ways that may be more natural and less threatening for some
  • Influence the way people see you and how they may think about different topics
  • Gain insights that help you innovate.

Here are some examples of this process in action:

One of my sons told me about a senior executive in his company (a boomer) who invited a group of summer interns to stay with him and his wife in their house one summer. As he came to know and talk with them at home, he blogged nearly daily about the insights he was gaining about this new generation of people. It triggered massive amounts of internal company discussion about managing in an inter-generational environment.

In one recent survey, 76% of executives are accessing social media sites on a daily basis. The top 5 reasons?

  • To Keep track of colleagues and competitors
  • To Access thought leaders (gaining insights not available anywhere else)
  • To Learn what customers think about their companies and products
  • To Access to learning and professional development
  • To Showcase their companies and themselves

A PEW research report indicates that 2/3rds of all adults in the US who have on-line access are regular visitors to social media sites. (A number that has doubled in the last three years). While people are definitely out there, not all are engaging – there is a progression of

  • Readers (about 78.1% of social media users – who read what’s out there)
  • Sharers (about 63% of users actively engage in sharing information with their friends and colleagues)
  • Commenters (about 34% of users are comfortable enough to come out of obscurity and post comments about what they read)
  • Producers (about 26% of people actively generate content online ranging from their own personal pages to blogs) And, finally there are the
  • Curators (less than 1% of users who actively engage in moderating on-line discussions)

If you are not thinking about how to create a meaningful presence in this social environment, you are likely missing an important opportunity.

Tweets from the Chief.  This is an article from Business Week on how some new CEO’s are using their Twitter accounts to send new product and service announcements to customers, offer customer service tips, and even get personal.

Next, I would direct your attention to a new book exploring this topic by Charlene Li, called “Open Leadership” (If you choose to click on this link, be sure to view the webcast).

Li describes (well I think) the potential power of leveraging open communications avenues to deepen relationships between leaders and their constituencies. She also addresses the main impediment – Fear of losing control.

Where is this moving? To gain one insight, here is an amazing TED talk by Seth Priebatsch (see below).  He argues that the last decade was the decade of Social Media – where the framework and infrastructure of social media was developed – thank you Facebook. The NEXT decade he projects will be the one that superimposes on it what Seth calls a “game layer” using gaming dynamics to drive actual influence in the world. Yikes.

I don’t know where you are in your set of social media experience. If you don’t know a Tweet from a Toot, you are probably more than a little behind the power curve. If you are aware, but unsure of how to harness social media to strengthen your role as a leader, it is probably worth doing some experimenting.

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2 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Leading, Managing Teams

2 responses to “Open Leadership

  1. Hi, – stumbled upon this blog inadvertently while searching around the internet this afternoon, and glad that i did! I like the layout and tones, but I need to say that I’m having issues when it loads. I’m using WannaBe 2 browser for mac, and the header would not line up as it should be. i’m confident I’ve used the exact same design on a customer’s site, but the menu seems alright on mine. I imagine the problem is with my browser and just maybe it’s time to change for a better one!

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