DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

voice, Voice, and VOICE!

Written by: on November 3, 2016

I’m sure United Airlines wishes Dave had chosen Exit over Voice. He certainly wasn’t demonstrating Loyalty.

At the beginning of Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead Charlene Li tells the story of Dave Carroll, and the non-response from Untied Airlines after he complained because they manhandled and broke his guitar. [1] His Voice sounds country-western, and the You Tube clip he posted in protest of being stonewalled by United has nearly sixteen million views. [2] Talk about voice!

“What’s really going on here [with the story of Dave]? The answer, both simple and far-reaching, is that there has been a fundamental shift in power, one in which individuals have the ability to broadcast their views to the world.” [3]

United Airlines has changed, a little, and does exercise Open Leadership to an extent. Following my most recent bad experience with them (and there have been many), flying home from London, they solicited response in an e mail survey, through which I happily exercised Voice. If they have a “destroy this guys luggage next time” list, I’m sure I’m now on it. I’m shocked that I have gotten no response from them regarding my survey.

This week’s book, Open Leadership, warrants comparisons to several books we have read this semester. Exit, Voice, and Loyalty by Albert Hirschman, [4] Good to Great by Jim Collins, [5] Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman, [6] and The Leadership Mystique by Manfred Kets de Vries [7] all echo throughout the current volume.

To speak colloquially, Open Leadership is Exit, Voice, and Loyalty on steroids. Voice has gone viral. To a large extent Charlene Li’s book is guiding companies regarding how to provide opportunity for voice and to do so in the most helpful and constructive way possible. She instructs leaders and companies how to be open in communication in the age of social media, and in fact how to leverage social media to the company’s advantage.

Li also reinforces Friedman and Kets de Vries in the area of emotional intelligence. “An open leader has to be someone who has a very high degree of emotional intelligence.” [8] “As I’ve said, self-awareness is a key attribute of open leaders.” [9] A leader who does not have emotional intelligence may well be too insecure to release sufficient control of the company to allow input from the voice of social media.

In this same vein Li says, “Humility is also needed, and as Jim Collins pointed out in his book Good to Great, it’s a key characteristic of great leaders…humility plays a special role – it allows open leaders to accept that their views on something may need to shift because of what their curious explorations expose. In a sense, humility gives them the self-awareness and confidence to admit when they are wrong or need help.” [10]

Li advocates that the realities of social media change how we lead. “In an open organization, the open leader still sets the goals, the strategy, and the agenda – but with greater information sharing and distributed decision making, the leader’s role in the organization changes in subtle but significant ways.” [11]

As we study Leadership and Global Perspectives, surely this qualifies for consideration. It is not difficult to see that social media contributes immensely to globalization realities, as we can connect instantly with people around the world. For one thing, being a leader does not just mean having integrity and authenticity locally; our character is now subject to examination by anyone in any place. In addition, the skill of the leader to be a catalyst means being able to do that not just with those within reach, but also with people that the leader may not ever have actually met face to face.

As leaders we need to rethink how we relate to people. “A major theme throughout this book has been that leadership is about relationships, and because social technologies are changing relationships, leadership also needs to change.” [12]

I have long found a helpful definition of leadership to be: “Leadership is a relationship of influence.” I was reminded of this while reading, “The new tools also mean individual contributors can exercise leadership now. they build their own relationships within the organization, offering help to their peers… This means you could be a leader just because people follow you – literally – on your blog, on Twitter, on your Facebook page, or elsewhere.” [13]

A large advantage to open leadership is that it can afford opportunities for relationships of influence to be broadly disseminated among the rank and file of any organization. This thought leads to my primary application from Open Leadership.

This week I will have another meeting with Dr. Adam Poole, director of Cornerstone School of Ministry; the host of my dissertation artifact. I have asked that our meeting include the administrative assistant in order to discuss how we can leverage social media to “get the word out” about our efforts to offer leadership training to international students. Through the years dozens, if not hundreds of students have taken courses with Cornerstone. Using facebook, as just one example, we can (1) request prayer for our efforts, (2) cast vision for the project, (3) publish brochures and information about our offerings for internationals, and (4) ask alumni to seek out internationals with whom they have relationship, in order to invite them to take classes. If alumni “like” our facebook page or put a “virtual sticker on their social networking profile,” [14] we can quickly multiply information about what we are doing.

Finally, we have been encouraged to be honest in our assessment of the books we read, so I offer a candid word: Open Leadership is the least substantive of the books we’ve read this year. It’s greatest value is as a reinforcement to the other volumes mentioned above. It may also serve to alert older leaders about the realities and advantages of social media.

[1] Charlene Li, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform The Way You Lead, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010), 3-5.
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
[3] Li, 5.
[4] Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).
[5] Jim Collins, Good to Great, (New York, NY: Harper Business, 2001).
[6] Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, (New York, NY: Seabury Books, 2007).
[7] Manfred Kets de Vries, The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise, (Harlow, England: Prentice Hall, 2006).
[8] Li, 167.
[9] Ibid., 179.
[10] Ibid., 169.
[11] Ibid., 197.
[12] Ibid., 163.
[13] Ibid., 200.
[14] Ibid., 11.

About the Author

mm

Marc Andresen

I have a B. A. in Music from San Diego State University and received an M. Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1977. July 1 2015 I retired after 38 years in pastoral ministry. The passion and calling that developed in the last 20 years is leadership training in cross-cultural contexts, as my wife and I have had many opportunities to teach in Eastern Europe and Africa. I have been married for 38 years and have two adult children, one daughter-in-law and a beautiful granddaughter. My hobbies are photography and British sports cars.

13 responses to “voice, Voice, and VOICE!”

  1. “Voice has gone viral” That’ll Tweet Marc!

  2. Although I agree with you that this is the least substantial book in terms of traditional research, I do see the value of reading it. Also, I think we are used to reading heavy academics like Hirschman and Kets DeVries so it might feel like Li’s stories about businesses feel, well, light, or lite. I think there are some good things here for emerging leaders seeking a global perspective like us. For example, it would be good to think through how you are going to handle criticism via social media of your artifact. Also, I really like Li’s charge to plan for failure. Brilliant, don’t you think?

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      You may be right about the comparison to some of our other authors. “Substantive” probably is affected by the weight of what we’ve previously read.

      Yesterday I did have a conversation with the Cornerstone director and admin assistants, and they had not thought about leveraging our facebook page. I’m surprised by this since they are quite a bit younger than I. But they liked the idea. It’s great to have an admin person to hand this off to.

      Your word about planning for how to handle criticism is good. I’m so naive, it wouldn’t cross my mind that someone might criticize us. We will have that conversation.

      So – yes – planning for the future, even at my advanced age.

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Marc,
    Good correlation with previous books. In a sense, this book echoed some of the ideas from the previous books but it did not seem to add a new substantial category. As you said, it added depth to the concept of voice.

    I hope your meeting with the director and the administrative assistant of Cornerstone goes well! At Ethnos, we just started developing our social media presence, so I have a lot to learn!

    Pablo

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Pablo,

      I did have a great meeting with the Cornerstone director and his two young assistants. Given my assumptions about younger culture, I was surprised that they had thought very little about how to leverage media (facebook) to the schools’ advantage. But it was fruitful because they’re now thinking about it. I’m glad to be able to hand this off to someone who has more band-width to think about it than do I.

  4. Claire Appiah says:

    Marc,
    An exceptional blog as usual, thanks. I’m glad to see how you are able to make immediate application of new understandings from our readings.
    Even though you deem Li’s book to be less substantive than the other books we have been reading, you captured the essence of the significance of her contribution in your statement, “To a large extent Charlene Li’s book is guiding companies regarding how to provide opportunity for voice and to do so in the most helpful and constructive way possible . . . and in fact how to leverage social media to the company’s advantage.” Well, her exposition is a great revelation to me because I could not see the value of social media beyond a primarily show and tell platform for interpersonal engagement on the more mundane things in life. Li brings a whole new way of thinking about the intertwining of relationships and leadership—a new challenge to leadership for me as a person that is intentionally pushing back from social media.

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Claire,

      You offer a gracious response, as usual.

      I also agree with you regarding the relative value of social media. Until we started this D Min program I virtually never read facebook because (to be transparent) I could not care less that someone’s status had changed, or that they had a hang nail. (Please forgive the sarcasm.)

      I still challenge the notion that what happens in social media is real relationship building. Perhaps I betray my age, but I don’t accept on-line exchanges to be relationship. Relationship means being in the same room with someone talking, or being able to call and say, “I’m not well, would you run to the store for me.” Relationship, or deep friendship, means sharing personal things that are not hung on the line for all the neighbors to see.

  5. Aaron Cole says:

    Marc,

    Great blog! Good connection with material to real world situations. You stated: “Open Leadership is the least substantive of the books we’ve read this year.” why do you think that? I am asking, because I found it very rich with information and real world situation. I am just curious.

    Aaron

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Aaron,

      I think it’s the least substantive because the subject matter itself did not strike me as being as deep as “Failure of Nerve” and “The Leadership Mystique” (to name two). Looking back to last year and books like “Deep Work,” I found this content to be less thought provoking.

      Having said that, the book did improve for me the deeper I got into it. Plus, I think my evaluation is totally subjective. I can see that if a person is in a different ministry context, this book could set off bells quality and applicability.

      The value in this book is that it is very practical, regarding application. I have felt for years that if I read a book or go to a conference, if I come away with one nugget then it is worth the money. I would say that about “Open Leadership.” It is definitely worth the price simply because it caused me to have a conversation with the Cornerstone School of Ministry leaders about making better use of social media for this ministry.

  6. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Marc:

    You did a great job on this post. The “openness” that Li suggested is made clear in a statement you made:

    “For one thing, being a leader does not just mean having integrity and authenticity locally; our character is now subject to examination by anyone in any place. In addition, the skill of the leader to be a catalyst means being able to do that not just with those within reach, but also with people that the leader many not ever have actually met face to face.”

    How do you balance the “charisma” and “authenticity/integrity”? I believe Li is correct on the need to engage others in process, but how do you take the people who are attracted to you but may not have the character to follow through with your values or vision?

    Phil

    • mm Marc Andresen says:

      Phil,

      Great complicated question. There may be a book in the answer: Balancing charisma and authenticity/integrity.

      Charisma (when it applies to personality and not spiritual gifts), which I would put in the same category as charm, is shallow, fleeting, and without significant content. It can enable us to gain a hearing and a following without depth of character or message.

      On the other hand authenticity and integrity have both depth and long-term credibility. For us as leaders, this must be our goal and aspiration. As we follow Christ we aspire to have integrity, not charisma. I think true authenticity begins in a small group of accountability partners, and not in the arena of social media. Human nature being what it is, I don’t believe people will truly be authentic in a limitless media world.

      This may seem contradictory to the statement that we are subject to scrutiny by anyone, anywhere, (and any time). We are subject to scrutiny in the public arena, but that does not mean we will disclose what needs to be disclosed.

      To this point I’ve just thought about us as leaders. Thinking about the character of those who follow opens a whole other topic. If we’re looking for people to walk with us through a process of being authentic, I think we need to be careful who we welcome into that process.

      If your question pertains to followers in general, we can of course teach integrity and pray for it, but in the end we can’t force it. Jesus certainly dealt with people who didn’t have what was needed to follow through. Perhaps we need to be prepared to keep challenging people.

      Having said all that, I’m not sure I’ve addressed your question.

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