Open Leadership, How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You LeadIt’s amazing that its been over 10 years since Cluetrain Manifesto was published.  In that collection of essays, several authors argue for the concept of organizations letting down their guard, and opening up communications from behind the corporate citadel. Charlene Li, coauthor of Groundswell, is a well-respected voice in the social media community. In fact, she was an inspiration in the development of our Social Media ROI Calculator.

But despite its subtitle, “How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead”, the book is more of a leadership book than a book on social technology or social media.

Both are addressed, for sure, but more as some of the tools available.  The bulk of the book is comprised of case studies (really GREAT case studies) and evangelism for the concept of open leadership.  I could see executives at really large corporations saying, “wow, we should really consider this”.

For a small organization like DragonSearch, I didn’t find too much here that I wanted to adopt for our organization.  We’ve always been pretty open – and my own leadership style has evolved over the years from a  ‘command and control’, to a hybrid of consensus building and working from a vision.  Or should an organization take Li’s concepts here, as some examples in the book do, to the extreme and practice REALLY OPEN leadership?  I’ve got a feeling that the choice is going to be different for different types of organizations, and in different economic cycles.

One chapter that I do think we’ll be underlining and referring to – the chapter on social media policies.  I’ve been looking for an instance of someone breaking down the archetypal policy into its constituents, and this is the best instance of someone taking on that task.

Each of us in writing about what moves us – what really motivates us – has to get to that nice quiet place in our minds where we can really think about what we want to take on.  I like what Charlene Li has chosen as her mission. She breaks everything down into its parts, and makes a case in a strong legal-like way.  And while any given person may accept or reject the notions in this book, all leaders would benefit from giving this book a reading.