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What it means to be an open leader

Source | LinkedIn : By Jim Whitehurst

Here’s a relatively short sentence, but one with enormous implications for anyone wishing to lead a group in the 21st century:

Being an open leader means creating the context others need to do their best work.

If you’re aiming to make a career leading an open organization, then you must not only understand what this sentence means, but also recognize ways you can put it into practice, so you can build a culture that creates a strategic, competitive advantage for your organization.

Context shapes culture

Culture is something management gurus are increasingly taking more seriously. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” I’ve heard people say. But I’m not sure all of those folks truly understand why this is the case.

Despite depictions in popular media, a great company culture isn’t simply the result of workplace perks and ping pong tables. Culture is the result of sufficientcontext—a shared set of values, a shared purpose, and shared meanings.

Being a leader in an open organization, then, means making connections: It involves doing the work of linking people both to each other and to some larger, shared picture. It’s helping people understand how they can contribute to a collective effort in meaningful ways.

As a leader, you create context when you help everyone in the organization understand its whole mission: the vision, the values—all the elements that define your very reason for existing. An open leader also helps people recognize the vast sum of interactions taking place that make an organization what it is—the aims, goals, and passions that push individuals to work together.

So when we talk about “creating context,” we’re really talking about bringing these two facets of organizational life together in exciting and productive ways. An open leader aligns passion with purpose, action with vision. And that creates a culture where people feel inspired, motivated, and empowered to do their very best work.

Shaping that culture begins with an emphasis on sharing.

Read On…

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