The Upside of Giving Up Control
The impact of empowered customers on companies: In an era when an upset client—in the blink of an eye and the click of a video camera in a computer—can complain about awful customer service, upload it on YouTube and have that market-busting “ad” eat up market share, can any leader ignore social media without great risk? Charlene Li thinks not, and I agree. We live in a new culture of sharing (think Amazon customer reviews) where customers can say a lot to help or hurt our brand based on their direct experiences. And they have bandwidth available. I love a quote she has from two great leadership gurus, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner: “Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow” (p. 9, taken from The Leadership Challenge). In a very real sense, the intelligent leader moves from what I would call a Command & Control style to an Advise & Consent form of leadership. Li offers new rules of open leadership: 1) Respect that your customers and employees have power; 2) Share constantly to build trust; 3) Nurture curiosity and humility; 4) Hold openness accountable; and, 5) Forgive failure. Social media allows access and openness to customers, vendors and all stakeholders. Leaders need to be able to swim in those new “open” waters or risk the consequences.