It has been a couple of years since I first came to the States and one of the things like is the customer service. Most businesses and organizations value their customers’ opinions and they try to make sure their customers are happy with their services and product. Access to the Internet has made it easy for anyone to get on social media sites and write their comments. Thus, Charlene Li’s book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead, helps today’s leaders understand the culture of the networked world they serve and develop necessary skills to engage with it. According to Li’s analysis leaders are faced with the challenge of giving up control and embracing social technologies. Why is opening up important? The author argues that opening up allows leaders to succeed. It is the transparency and authenticity that can bring significant benefits to an organization. Thus, according Li, the way move forward for today’s leaders is to open up to learn from their employees and customers and engage in dialogue. Unless they engage in dialogue they will not hear what others are saying about their organization, which also potentially will affect their business.
The power of social media is also enhancing the global communication. For instance, in April 2014, when the Ethiopian government imprisoned and killed thousands of Oromo university students and civilians for their peaceful protest againt the expansion of Addis Ababa, which will displace Oromo farmers in the outskirts and suburban areas of the city, it was because of social media that the global society was able to hear their story. The Oromo community in Diasporas utilized social medias to arrange peaceful protest on behalf of our students in Ethiopia. Although there is no freedom to blog about Ethiopia’s oppressive regime, people are still managing to go online and post their stories anonymously.
Serving in this sensitive nature of our ministry, every time we send out our ministry update to partner churches in America we ask them not to share publicly online. While we would like to have more ministry partners, we do not want our ministry information to get in the wrong hands. We realize that having a website where we can share our work will put us at risk rather than benefit our ministry goals. But we have a closed Facebook page where we can share brief ministry updates with our ministry partners. For now this is how it makes sense for us as to be open and engaged with our partners. We will see what is best for us as move forward.
The concept of open leadership is pivotal in ministry context as well. Leaders need to open themselves up to listen to their ministry partners as well as their co-workers’ views. The challenge I noted in my church is the leadership team tends to make decisions that need to involve the whole congregation. This often makes the members grumble and sometimes results in a church split. In order to build healthy relationship within the church leaders need to dialog openly on the issues that matter to all. When mistakes happen it is important to forgive. As Li says, forgiving failure is important, for failure is inevitable. “Things go wrong all the time in relationships, and the healthiest ones move on from them, leaving behind grudges and blame ” (p.15). This often sounds simply in theory but gets difficult in practice. It is important to remember that as long as we are learning and trying new things there is a chance for things to go wrong. And we need leaders who can lift us up when we fail and encourage us to try again.