Book Review: Open Leadership

30 08 2010

Having seen trends come and go over the years I tend to be deeply (and for good reason) suspicious of marketing hyperbole.  That’s why I really liked the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  It was a lucid, practical, and level-headed approach to the coming groundswell of Social Media.

This past weekend, I finished reading Charlene Li’s most recent book, “Open Leadership” and it picks up right where Groundswell left off.  This book takes a deeper, more pragmatic, look at how to build and implement a Social Media strategy.  The key points of the book are all illustrated with real-life examples of major organizations that have gone through the process.

Many social media spokespeople are saying: be open, be transparent, be authentic.  That’s a great mantra and a great beginning. But there is a lot more to a successful social media strategy.  Exactly how does one actually go about implementing a social media strategy, especially in established enterprises that may not have the open culture required?  The devil is always in the details and there is often a lot of organizational resistance to suddenly going open:

  • Employees don’t know what to say or how to act online.
  • “That’s not the way it’s done here!”
  • Opening up is often threatening to middle managers who survive by controlling information.
  • Opening up exposes the company and individuals to criticism from outside

We all want feedback from our customers, but going open and embracing social media can be very scary.  Open Leadership goes into the how of successfully using social media in an enterprise; from giving up control, to building an open strategy, to providing the leadership required for your enterprise to successfully make the transition.

Let’s face it.  Social media is a social phenomenon that is happening in a much broader scale than just in the business world. And, there is no stopping a social phenomenon.  The only real choices are to get on board and figure out how to ride the phenomena or to get run over by it.  Social media is going to happen with or without your company’s involvement.  The question is: Do you want your customers and competitors to frame the online discussion without your presence or do you want to join in on the discussion and build lasting relationships with your customers and potential customers.

This book tells you how to go about it, step-by-step.  Highly recommended.

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