Leadership is a fascinating subject. Charlene Li books, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead demonstrates how intricate leadership issues can be. Prior to reading “Open Leadership”, I was reflecting on the role of social media in global communications. Is it the medium that matters, or is it the message? I enjoy studying and learning about how leaders can be purposeful and fruitful in cross-cultural communications and so Li’s book provided eye openers. It has added to my ongoing process of thinking, praying and the implementation of plans concerned with how to respond to some of the preventable global issues that are exacerbated by leadership inabilities.
The concept of “Open Leadership” is timely because with it comes the need to effectively structure the use of technology as a tool to resource the type of leader committed to support and serve communities. How much should a leader control? Li introduces the American Red Cross’s desire to control its messaging during hurricane Katrina through social media. The author writes:
What’s fascinating about this story is that the American Red Cross started engaging in social media because it sought to control it, but realized over time that it was better to be open and engage with those who are already engaging them. But here’s a critical point: the Red Cross didn’t simply throw open the doors overnight. It was only when Harman was able to put in place the proper procedures, policies, and guidelines that defined how everyone should and shouldn’t behave, that the Red Cross felt comfortable letting go of the impulse to control.
The book is structured into three parts which begin with the inevitability of giving up control is and ten characteristics of being open. The following subjects are about the creative strategy leaders need to be open and one’s ability to understand the benefits and measured value of being open. However, openness can also be costly to a business’ competitive advantage if not handled in reason. Therefore it is incumbent upon any leadership team to innovate and leave room for lessons. Li notes:
Leadership requires a new approach, new mid-set, and new skills. It isn’t enough to be a good communicator. You must be comfortable sharing personal perspectives and feelings to develop closer relationship. Negative online comments can’t be avoided or ignored. Instead, you must come to embrace each openness-enabled encounter as an opportunity to learn. And it is not sufficient to just be humble. You need to seek out opportunities to be humbled each and every day- to be touched as much by the people who complain as be those who say “Thank you.”
The idea of “Sandbox Covenants” was intriguing because it allows for the creation of openness. It also helps with the process of instilling policies that can guide organizations in managing the risks that emerge with openness. According to Li, “Covenants are promises that people make with each other, which differ from traditional corporate policies and procedures that dictate how things will operate within organizations”
 Charlene Li. Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010) xii
 Ibid., xvi.
 Ibid., 109.