Open Followership

I recently reviewed Charline Li’s new book “Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead,” at my website. Her book will be out May 24, 2010, and I recommend you read it.

Charline defines open leadership as “having the confidence and humility to give up the need to be in control while inspiring commitment to accomplish goals” (p. 14). If you work for someone that practices open leadership, consider yourself very fortunate because in my experience these folks are rare.

Even if you don’t work for an open leader, you should be developing this capacity in yourself right now as a follower. If you don’t work on this mindset of openness now as a follower, you simply won’t have it when you are given the privilege to lead.

Online Accountability

One of the biggest things this means for you as you work on your personal brand is that you hold yourself accountable for everything you do online so that you will be well prepared to be held accountable by open leaders. If the company you work for has formal or informal guidelines about how employees should and should not conduct themselves online, you need to make sure you understand and adhere to those guidelines. Take great care as you post things to stay well within your company’s comfort zone and make sure that you always strive to cast yourself and your company in a professional and positive light.

Demonstrate that you can be curious and courageous online, while at the same time remaining trustworthy and humble. When you make mistakes – and you WILL make mistakes – admit them, fix them, and recover with grace.

As you advance in your career, you need to be a role model of open leadership for your followers. Because you are practicing personal branding so early in your career, you will have a substantial record of online activity for all to examine. Take great care to establish a remarkable record.

Open leadership will come much easier to you and your peers than it does to leaders of the current generation.

Don’t miss this huge opportunity to differentiate yourself.


Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

Related posts:

  1. My Love/Hate Relationship with Being “Open”
  2. Discretion
  3. Greg de Lima’s Personal Brand

2 Responses to “Open Followership”

  1. [...] my post on Open Followership at The Student Branding Blog, I once again recommend Charlene Li’s new book Open Leadership [...]

  2. avatar Anshul Gupta says:

    These things are easy said than done; otherwise this world have a different leadership at helm. But sure these things are routinely done by people, who are most respected leaders of all time like, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln ….

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