How openness can transform the way you lead

Steffie Verstappen
Article by: Steffie Verstappen
How openness can transform the way you lead

This is a discussion of the book "Open Leadership: How social technology can transform the way you lead" by Charlene Li (Jossey-Bass: 2010).


At THNK, we are continuously thinking of old and new ways to use social technologies in order to open up to as wide a community as possible. It is most important that this openness is not merely implemented by way of a marketing trick but actually real, meaning that it is transparent and explicitly seeking true dialogue. In her latest book, Charlene Li propagates just that. She makes several interesting observations about the dilemmas that opening up to the world tends to present to traditional leaders. Nonetheless, she emphasizes the need to open up and lays out the questions that businesses and organizations should take into account when strategizing about it.


In her new book, Charlene Li helps leaders to become acquainted with and more oriented toward social networking and other technological advances. According to her, there are new skills and behaviors that open leaders must learn and master to be effective. A lot of those relate to generating—often somewhat counter-intuitively—more openness in their organization, in ways that differ significantly from more traditional forms of leadership. Is all about understanding the upside of giving up control, she argues.


The book lays out all the rules that leaders need to pay attention to in order to be effective and to be in command. Sofar, many companies and organizations are reluctant to embrace social technologies because there is a sense that you will no longer be in control. Businesses are used to having a certain distance between them and their customers, partners, and even their employees. Reshaping these into more open relationships is associated with vulnerability and lack of control.


Nevertheless, companies need to open up if they ultimately want to survive. Therefore, it is important to strategize about what you will be open about, to whom, how, under what circumstances, and to achieve what goals. Charlene Li's book aims to support this process.

To discover the benefits of being an open leader and embrace your vulnerability, join the THNK Creative Leadership Program. Visit the program page to find out if you qualify or contact us at