Newsletter June 2010


This issue of the newsletter looks at a new book by leading thinker on social media, Charlene Li.

Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead Open Leadership, by Charlene Li will I am sure help many  business leaders make more sense of the possibilities as well as the risks of social technology/social media. I am pretty confident that the approach of the book will also be confronting for some whose leadership styles are still essentially “old school”.

Corporate Culture and Styles of leadership

It seems to be accepted among fellow social media practitioners I talk to that when it comes to developing and implementing social technology/ social media strategies, issues of corporate culture are at least as important  as technology issues – and in many ways more important.

Inevitably, any serious look at the culture of an organization for the purposes of designing a social strategy will include a look at prevailing styles of leadership and whether those styles are likely to support or inhibit a social strategy.

Charlene Li’s Open Leadership will be a valuable tool for that process and beyond.

I loved and recommended widely Charlene’s previous book, Groundswell, Expanded and Revised Edition: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies”Groundswell, co-authored with Josh Bernoff, and I see this new one as an excellent complement to the earlier one.

Charlene explains that the book has been written, in part at least,in response to feedback she has had about challenges in implementing social media in the enterprise. Not challenges about technologies, but challenges in terms of corporate culture and especially in terms of modes of leadership.

Charlene Li found that people who were energized and empowered by reading (and re-reading and underlining and dog-earing) Groundswell were running into resistance from “curmudgeons” and executives who were fearful of the risk involved in engaging the groundswell.

“Essentially, they realized that their companies didn’t have the right culture and mind-set – and, more important, the right leadership – to engage the groundswell.”

Looking for a new book to support their efforts, these people made it clear to Charlene that they did not want another book on social technologies.

“They wanted something that would explain to their executives how to change and open up their organizations”.

The book has examples, case studies, checklists and action plans, and comes with a companion website with further resources.

The risks are real

I don’t for a minute want to pretend that there are not risks involved in, to use Charlene Li’s terminology, engagement with the groundswell.  There are risks and they need to be addressed. Which is why smart organizations have social media policies, protocols and codes of practice.

What Charlene has done with her book, it seems to me, is take the discussion to a – literally – higher level and open up the issue of how organizations are going to have to be led now and in the future, if they are to do well in the new social technology enabled environment.

That’s all for now.

Till next time, go well


Disclaimer: links for books recommended in this newsletter are Amazon Associate links, so I get a small commission if anyone clicks through and buys. The books should also be available at or through any good bookstore.

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