Open Source Leadership


I had an interesting experience the other day with someone who said (and I paraphrase), “I’m meeting with this Sr. VP at XYZ company (fortunately not Thomas Nelson) and he’ll get his people to do what I need them to do.” His statement blew me away. I’m sure his idea of leadership was popular in say 1955.


I’m sure the early 50’s employee was used to rather “top down” style. After all most of the workforce had just come back from war and most of they were used to taking or giving orders. It was a matter of military life and just following orders without question was exactly the right thing to do to save your life, or someone else’s. So when my father’s generation entered the workforce they just continued the practice.

Future generations, however, haven’t held to that way of leadership. Most great leaders who I know today value their team member’s input and discussion. The idea is that with input and discussion we can do a better job of making quality decisions as opposed to just a quantity of mediocre decisions.

The way I like to do this is something like open source – I enjoy evaluating individuals and trying my best to put them where they can be successful and maximize what they’ve been given to do. To open source the team, I simply draw the best I can from their individual strengths (or temperaments) and allow each part to speak into the discussion, problem, idea, etc. When it all comes together it’s a thing of beauty as you bring to the moment everyone’s uniqueness and you get some well-rounded decisions.

Sure, the buck stops here, but at least I haven’t made decisions in a vacuum or ignored some tremendous talent who could give me new perspective and take something to a much higher level.

My problem is I admittedly don’t do it enough. In the heat of the fast moving train of the day I often forget my own formula and rely only on a few people or simply myself. It’s the tyranny of the urgent once again killing what is something of more worth and value – truly open source leadership.

So tell me, how do you do it? What do you do to insure you’re making quality, well-informed decisions and not allowing yourself to fall into the trap?


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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