Leadership = Sharing Information

Yesterday Chris Brogan posted Am I Too Naked in reaction to a comment from a potential customer. She expressed doubt that Chris could offer anything more as a paid consultant because he shares so much free information on his blog.

This reminds me of one of my favorite takeaways from a book called The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. They say:

“Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power; you become more powerful when you give your own power away” (251).

Think about that for a sec. Does the idea knock you out? It should. There are so many people out there hoarding their knowledge, hoarding their information, jealously guarding their intellectual talent. Sure, that’s one way to go. I see what they’re up to: “I want everyone to think I’m irreplaceable. I want to be the only person who knows how to do this! Because if someone else knows it, they might threaten my position. I could lose some of my power… and I don’t want that!!”

This thinking is just plain wrong. In Chris’s case, he never would have met that skeptical would-be customer if it weren’t for the information he shared on his blog. By consistently posting intelligent, useful information, he demonstrates himself as a resource, a font of knowledge that seemingly doesn’t dry up. Does she really think there’s not more where that came from?

What if managers and leaders embraced this model of sharing information? I can think of so many ways that sharing your knowledge and power with your team could benefit you:

  • Establish a common language / pool of knowledge
  • Cross-train employees
  • Boost productivity
  • Streamline processes
  • Improve service
  • Decrease the chances of duplicated work or effort
  • Increase satisfaction with the outcome
  • Avoid misunderstandings / confusion

What else? There must be success stories out there from managers who “give away their power.” I’d sure love to read some.

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