What I appreciated it about Charlene Li’s book Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, is the way she describes the organizational models. She talks about three models that seem to be dominant in our culture, organic, centralized and coordinated. It seems to me that open leadership is taking the best out of these three and adapting them into your context and culture. Her definition of open leadership is beautiful, but I think it’s very western in its reach. She says, open leadership is “having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment from people to accomplish your goals.” Yes! This is on the shoulders of the leader and it demands intentionality, but in cultures that value titles and hierarchy, the leader can attempt to create a culture of sharing, a culture of followship and a culture of allowing those in common positions to make meaningful decisions, but it will be hard for the workers to accept this.
I’m having a hard time seeing this unfold in my context. The second generation might be more inclined to live this way, but this will be impossible for the first generation. I know, “impossible” is a really strong word, but I just can’t see it. My title gives me power, authority, and privilege… even if I strip my power and try to empower those around me, they refuse to pick up the baton because they feel unworthy, or uneducated. But it’s even deeper than that… without a title; the community will not accept the voice speaking to them.
So, to make a long story short, I like how she thinks. I like what she proposes, but I’m skeptical of this working long term in a non western context… I’m a little skeptical about the western context too, but I have a little more hope for them due to personality and values.
I watched her TedTalk on this subject and found it helpful. If you have time, please watch and let me know what you think.