Last year I took my husband on a small holiday in West Wales, a beautiful part of the country with rolling beaches and sleepy towns. We selected a lovely guesthouse to stay in run by a friendly and Internet-savvy husband and wife, chosen specifically because they had five star reviews on Tripadvisor.
Upon arrival, the host couldn’t do enough for us, and as the stay continued, it became apparent why. She understood the power of Tripadvisor and wanted to keep her five star rating. She grilled us on what we thought about things, even the questionable mattress, which could have put her small business in danger of losing that all-important rating. The power of social media has influence even in that quiet part of the world.
The Internet has changed how businesses operate. No longer can management control how information is disseminated among colleagues and competition. Social media has created new rules of engagement, which no businessperson can ignore. In a 2010 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Charlene Li stated, “Open leadership is really about having a true relationship with people. The fundamentals of leadership are about having a relationship with your followers. And leadership doesn’t anymore come from a position that you’re given or how much budget that you have.” 
Personally I found Li’s book refreshing and inspiring, especially her focus on dealing with failures within a company. She writes, “How you, as an open leader, deal with failure is just as important as how well you deal with success.”  She explains how difficult it is today to hide failures in our Internet-savvy world, but successful leaders find ways to manage and utilize them to the organization’s advantage: “The key is to keep everyone focused on the larger goal, not the temporary setback. The greatest generals do not win every single battle, but they are able to rally the troops, analyse what went wrong, and make adjustments for the next battle.” 
I find this encouraging simply because I admit I have already made a mistake in my church planting venture this year (several actually, but I’ll just mention one here). As Jim Griffith and Bill Easum write in Ten Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts , spending too much time in one’s office and not enough time ‘out there’ on the streets meeting people and sharing the gospel, is a mistake that many church planters make. I admit I am one of them. Although we are now working out evangelism strategies, I came to realise I should have focussed much more on this much earlier on, instead of spending so much time sitting behind my computer getting systems and policies in place. As Li explains, it is vital that leaders and employees recover and learn from mistakes, and how every company is vulnerable to making them. Even Google, which she describes, is “really good at failure”.
That gives me hope. Open Leadership has greatly strengthened my resolve to not only embrace the power of social media with all the necessary guidelines in place, but to embrace the power of failure, and to do so with open communication, online or offline, with those I serve God with.
 Benny Evangelista, San Francisco Chronicle, May 2nd, 2010, accessed 19 November 2014, http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/How-social-media-has-changed-executive-roles-3190130.php
 Charlene Li, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 218
 Li, 222
 Jim Griffith, Bill Easum: Ten Most Common Mistakes Made By New Church Starts (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2008)
 Li, 220