UNTHINKABLE – 7: Open Leadership – What is it?

The UNTHINKABLE articles were first posted on Linked In. 

I smile as I recognise that the speed of change and evolution now means that I’ve put developing this leadership model on hold for now. I am, however, leaving these 7 articles up as I feel they do illustrate core source issues and opportunities for leaders to look at in themselves prior to developing and practicing their own evolution of their leadership.

(The seventh in a series of articles inspired by a Sep 26, 2017 Workshop for Entrepreneurial Scotland)

In the opening article of this series, I began with a summary of where I am with developing the #OpenLeadership model.

Open Leadership

The next five articles focussed on elements of “Let Go”, and now we move to Open Leadership itself.

When I wrote the opening article one month ago, two days after running a workshop that inspired me to create this series, I gave a brief summary of the three elements of Open Leadership as being :

  • VISION as a concept must change to a general sense of direction, subject to frequent course correction. A very different model for visionary leadership.
  • COLLABORATION. Open Leadership is truly collaborative
  • HUMILITY. The seven most powerful words in business “I don’t’ know, what do you think” (when delivered with confidence that the answer is within the collective).

It makes me smile at myself to recognise that my thoughts have evolved even in this month, as I have both written this series of short LI articles and also committed to write daily on tommccallum.com on a wider range of themes.

I’m already feeling that what I came up with in the drawing above is evolving, so in upcoming articles around Open Leadership and the three themes above, I can sense things will evolve further.

For now, let me muse in this first article on the theme of Open Leadership. As I stay with this theme in the next few articles, let’s see what emerges.

So, a business hero of mine, Chip Conley, is the person from whom I first heard the phrase Vulnerable Visionary. I’ve listened to Chip speak many times, so let me try to capture some of his thoughts on what it means to be such a person. The sort of person with such Open Leadership characteristics as :

  • Absolute drive, passion and commitment towards the purpose of the business. They are, simply put, the “Keeper of the Vision” for all who are part of it.
  • Able, when asked for the answers by their team, to say the seven powerful words “I don’t know, what do you think ?”, and with an energy that is open and almost literally lifts up the team and draws the best from them.
  • Confidence. Vision, Collaboration and Humility lose much of their value if the leader is not confident that the Vision will be reached and that the team can do it together. They may have doubts that the vision is “nailed down” and they may have doubts on strategy and execution at times. All of that is absolutely normal, natural and real. However, it is also key that the leader has bulletproof confidence that everything will work out.

**Edit, found the video of Chip on an old Tweet I posted years ago ! :

Adding to this, I recently discovered a recent article by Tom Nixon. Tom is fond of referencing a few key people he looks up to, and at the same time I truly love when he then synthesises his own thoughts, as he does with these closing words in the article :

“Keep tuning into your need. Take responsibility for the process of realising it. Listen to all of the information and wait to get clear on the next step and then take it. Allow a creative hierarchy to naturally emerge to help you. And don’t stop until you’re done.”

Tom Nixon, modelling what being a vulnerable visionary is.

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