“God created black people and black people created style,” George C. Wolfe once wrote. “African-Americans heavily influence everything, entertainment to political discourse to the culture and conversations that fuel the Internet. And yet black users on social platforms are largely ignored by the companies who build them. In an effort to drive growth, many social media companies make the mistake of exclusively courting brands and celebrities while ignoring influential black users.”
This is a review of the book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, written by Charlene Li (2010).
Social technologies are changing the face of business, while changing the foundation of any successful company. While traditional organizations continue to assume that businesses require vertical hierarchies and, above all, tight control, this new-order world means greater openness and transparency (Fitzgerald et al. 2014).
Unfortunately, not all managers today are able to be open and, simultaneously, have control. This book is an essential resource for anyone who wants to lead in a world where the power of social media is becoming the norm.
Open, transparent, and authentic are the new mantras of leadership even though the traditional concept of business is based on control. In this book, Li addresses this contradiction and explains how business leaders can benefit from the revolution of social technology, use social networks to be open, and maintain control (Aral, Dellarocas, and Godes, 2013).
Li illustrates her theories with clear cases of success in the workplace, starting with the famous video of a Dell computer exploding in a meeting. Li tells us that we must have confidence and humility to give up the need to control. This is achieved through three factors.
Today it is necessary to create an open whole strategy around new technologies. We must learn to use them for the benefit of the company. Four parallel objectives define an open strategy.
You can learn a lot about customers with basic tools like Twitter or Facebook. Li shows examples of companies that have improved their customer and employees relationships through social networks: via conversations on Twitter, good technical support online, or asking advice on new products (Kabani, 2013).
Li teaches how a good leader, mentally open to new times, must have the confidence and humility to give up the need to control, while promoting people’s dedication to reaching the objectives. The traits that define “open” leaders are authenticity and transparency.
This important book exposes how technologies—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, smart phones and many others—can transform communication, making business more efficient and optimizing leaders’ decision making. Li shows readers how being open requires greater rigor and control. This book exposes step by step, with cases in various sectors and in different countries, how to achieve company precision, both outward and inward, in this new open world. The author includes proposals that will help organizations establish an open strategy by measuring risks and benefits. It also includes a guide to successful procedures for implementing open leadership as a strategic plan.
According to Li, a metamorphosis must occur for true digital leaders to emerge: They must be connected automatically (as the driver of the car), and they must listen to, share with, and participate with any person in the organization using digital technologies. This metamorphosis is not easy or comfortable, but without it the leader is not really practicing digital leadership. Li raises three very revealing issues:
- Crosscutting relationships are a fact of life in new organizational structures due to new technologies, and they are here to stay.
- This metamorphosis in the working methods requires an adaptation of everyone, including the leader. To carry out any transformation, the leader must be the first to adapt and transform, thinking and acting in the digital world.
- The digital world is no longer new; the new scenario has been here for a while now. One has to have the knowledge and skills to implement appropriate measures to meet strategic objectives.
Since “Open leadership is defined as having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish goals” (Li, 2010, p. 14), then how can the Openness Covenants – part of the book that covers social media guidelines and policies,”help church leaders define the “safe area of the sandbox to play within Social medial”?
Aral, S., C. Dellarocas, and D. Godes. 2013. “Introduction to the Special Issue—Social Media and Business Transformation: A Framework for Research.” Information Systems Research 24, no. 1: 3–13.
Fitzgerald, M., N. Kruschwitz, D. Bonnet, and M. Welch. 2014. “Embracing Digital Technology: A New Strategic Imperative.” MIT Sloan Management Review 55, no. 2: 1.
Kabani, S. 2013. The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, generate buzz, and increase revenue. Dallas, TX: BenBella Books.
Li, Charlene, 2010. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead. San Francisco: Jossey-B