1. The leader is no longer able to control

In the book Open Leadership Charlene Li argues (2010, p.8) “the biggest indicator of success has been an open mindset – the ability of leaders to let go of control at the right time, in the right place, and in the right amount”. The idea of a transition from the Scientific Management to the Humanistic Management is widely supported by Minghetti in L’Intelligenza Collaborativa (2013)

2. Employees control, customers control

3. The leader creates the conditions for others to control

4. Leaders should stop thinking about their leadership. They shouldn’t think of their talents or of the list of trendy virtues

The contribution of J. Rost
on leadership calls attention to the completely anti-charismatic dimension of
leadership on the Web. Rost states:

  • Don’t train people to think of leadership as good management so that everything a good manager does is leadership.
  • Get rid of the notion that leadership is only what works, that leadership is always a successful
    process, that leadership is high performance…
  • Train people to think about the process that leadership is.
  • Train people to think of leadership as a specific relationship of people planning a mutually
    agreeable, real change.
  • Have people list the leadership relationships in which they have been participating during a 12 or 24-month period.

Authenticity. Trasparency, moral perspective

5. The obligation of a leader is to be him/herself and not imitate others. This is a purpose as a human being and not just as a leader

In 2007 Avolio identified Authentic Leadership as an evolution in the way of ethical leadership, developing from the meaning of the Greek word, namely “to be true to oneself.” Authentic Leaders exhibit transparency to others by sharing information and giving feedbacks. A test developed on A.L. has identified a few dimensions: self-awareness of own leadership, transparency, moral perspective (Bruce J. Avolio, William L. Gardner, “Authentic leadership development: Getting to the root of positive forms of leadership”, The Leadership Quarterly 16 (2005) 315–338).

Psychodynamic approaches to leadership, such as those proposed at the Tavistock Conference, aim to bring people to reach a greater level of awareness concerning the dynamics activated in their own inner world with reference to the theme of Authority. Conferences are “social islands” (Miller, 1989) allowing participants to question established assumptions and gain new spaces for authenticity.


6. Leadership is a process. Leadership is relationship

“Leadership is a function of the group, a phenomenon existing because the group exists and because it is a feeling of the group… Leadership is ultimately a symptom of an attempt to bring order to the network of interhuman social influencing relationships, namely power, i.e. the ability to generate or prevent changes. It is necessary to interpret it, in order not to confuse it with command. In this sense it should be measured and managed in such a way as to consider it as a resource for the group and therefore a variable asset available for the group and not ruling the group… leadership aims to increase the efficiency of the group, so the group is not at the leader’s disposal, but rather the leader is at the group’s disposal” (E. Spaltro, Pluralità, 1993, p. 198)


7. Leadership is reciprocity. If a leader wants to be able to influence he/she must accept being influenced

Since a group is a dynamically balanced field of forces (K. Lewin, Principles of topological psychology, 1961), it is in a turbulent and constantly evolving state. The tensions between forces make the group a space-time of diversity in motion.

For this reason power serves as an influencing force in the group, namely the tendency of the field’s regions to extend space. According to this logic, power can only be exercised by maintaining a balance that involves reciprocity. The loss of reciprocity results in the establishment of violent relationships.


8. Leadership is a service: to customers, to employees , to the community. For this reason its guiding values are: honesty, power sharing, transparency

Servant leadership
In the 70s Robert Greenleaf (The servant as leader, 1982) , introduced the concept of a leadership that is of service . The features are three: 1) integrity 2) being of service without seeking the limelight 3) power sharing

Brown and others, Ethical leadership: “the demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actors and interpersonal relationships, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two way communication reinforcement, and decision making” (p.120). Ethical leaders are honest, they take charge of people and use appropriate rewards and punishments to reinforce the ethical dimensions. Ethical leadership is related to three main features, i.e. fairness (to act honestly) power sharing (to share the power) and role clarification (to convey the role transparently) (De Hoogh & Den Hartog, 2008). Other studies by Kalshoven (2011) have shown that there are 4 other dimension of E.L.: people orientation, ethical guidance, integrity and concern for sustainability.

9. In open systems trust is the engine of relationships, both within companies and on markets, by means of collaborative consumption

The open leader has an optimistic view of other people and is inclined to trust them. Such positivity is expressed by curiosity and humility in the relationship with others. Trust means knowing that employees will be able to control themselves.
John Shook, Senior Advisor of the Lean Enterprise Institute argues that leaders in Toyota “1) Get each person to take initiative to solve problems and improve his or her job 2) Ensure that each
person’s job is aligned to provide value for the customer and prosperity for the company” Many studies recognize trust as the fundamental concept around which knowledge society moves. The concept is developed adequately in the literature on social capital. ,
On collaborative consumption see Rachel Botsman, expert in the sharing of cars, flats and talents in the new economy based on
reputational capital
On trust see C. Li, Open Leadership, p. 165-170.

10.The leader builds relationships based on respect

One of the founding aspects of the Toyota method is respect. It means taking responsibility for others’ problems and creating conditions for mutual trust. The original core of the concept refers to the recognition of a higher authority, force or value. It conveys into everyday behaviour, where the leader escapes the temptation to exert domain (vertical code powerful/object of power), establishing instead a peer to peer, mutually influencing relationship.
R. Downie, E. Telfer, Respect for persons, Allen & Unwin, London 1969.
Y. Monden, Toyota production system: an integrated approach to just-in-time, 2012.
See also R. Sennett, Respect in a word of inequality, 2003


11.The leader knows how to play the role of catalyst. He/she is not the only protagonist. He/she performs an inspirational, alignment and support function for colleagues

In The starfish and the spider (2008) Brafman and Beckstrom dealt with the theme of the catalyst leader. The catalyst leader is not the protagonist of change. He/she knows how to play a secondary role. He/she facilitates relationships, inspires, gives trust. As a result he/she enables the kind of collaboration that produces excellent results. Using another metaphor, the leader is likely to promote the condensation of a system that, if maintained in a liquid state (Bauman), generates disorientation and doesn’t perform the task. The excess of fluidity occurs in chaotic states, where entropy becomes very high. The theme is also resumed by Li (2010, op. cit.)


P2P. On the Web only peer exchange counts, with no interposition from hierarchy


12.Leaders must not think of their employees as parents think of their children (in a top/down

Michel Bauwens‘s volume P2P and Human Evolution (2005) , introduces the concept of Equal Power in the
emerging practices of knowledge exchange. There are no rules for participation and validation is an intersubjective community process. In fact, valuable contents on the Web are recognized as such by the community and assessed through ratings (e.g., the votes received by posts on blogs) .

It is also interesting to observe that organizations are historically built considering affective codes of the vertical type. Inspired by the Maternal and Paternal codes (F. Fornari, L. Frontori, C. Riva Crugnola, Psicoanalisi in ospedale – Nascita e affetti nell’istituzione, Cortina, Milan, 1985; M. Bellotto, G. Trentini, Culture organizzative e formazione, Franco Angeli, Milan, 1991), leadership refers primarily to the relationship between managers and employees. But there is another kind of leadership that should not be forgotten and it is the one between equals. Equals in the sense that there’s no determining natural principle as parenting or hierarchy to characterize the psychic and social difference between people. In developing organizations managers are asked to call themselves into question and to accept even equal relations with employees in order to foster innovation and quality of service. For this reason the affective code that should be applied in companies is the “code of brothers”. P. Bruttini (ed.), Città dei capi, IPSOA, Milan, 2014.

13.Leaders should not think of their managers as children think of their parents (in a bottom/up relationship)

14.In contemporary enterprises leadership is not just based on asymmetrical relations (top/down, bottom/up)but also on peer relations


Conflict in the presence of an increasing ambiguity

15.Leadership accepts ambiguity and turns it into generative conflict

The increase of ambiguity has two different outcomes . On the one hand the lack of definition and dialectic between opposites leads to a magmatic situation, with no evolution possibilities. On the other hand, failing to support ambiguity brings to an amplification of clashes and doesn’t give any access to the generative dimension, enabled instead by the acceptance of diversity.

The denial of the future that Western cultures had promised (M. Benasayag, G. Smith, Le passions tristes, 2003) has produced the ideology of crisis. It is an ideology of permanent emergency that occurs in a context perceived as threatening. The limited capacity of human beings to bear emergencies and dangers (U. Morelli, Conflitto, 2006), boosts aggressive and conflicting behaviours. For this reason in recent years studies on conflict management and negotiation dynamics have flourished. Among the main authors see J. Galtung, Transcend & Transform: An Introduction to Conflict Work, London, Pluto Press and Boulder, 2004

16.Conflicts can be dealt with through negotiation and mediation. Contemporary leadership must negotiate rather than control

The full and reciprocal application of the game theory would reduce any negotiation to a relationship with a predictable outcome. In the long run, the application of win to win theories (collaboration and trust) produces positive results. In the short term, nonetheless, occasional competitive behaviours favour only one side. This causes the need to establish negotiatiative relationships.

William Ury , Roger Fisher and Bruce Patton, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in, revised 2nd edition, Penguin USA, 1991

Agile. A new culture in the name of self-organization, transparency and customer involvement

17.Leaders work in an agile way. They need to adapt to a constantly changing environment. They promote simplicity, flexibility, the production of real value for customers

Agile software development is a group of software development methodologies that promote simplicity, self- organization and collaboration with customers. This is an incremental, light methodology, opposing the traditional waterfall approach where rigid rules, strict contractual limits and contrasts between customers
and suppliers are typical. A key feature of agile systems is the self-organization structure of working groups (scrums), which decide autonomously, with no need for a supervisor. There is a significant difference with traditional methods where a project manager arranges the activities of developers in a sequence. Agile principles have been collected in the Agile Manifesto.

Self-organization Beyond command, value is generated by leaving people free to manage themselves.

18.The leader supports co-workers in the development of self-organization processes. This support is expressed
1) as definition of guidelines in the planning stage
2) as self- restraint in later stages

In companies self-organization aims at enhancing the mutual differences between elements, in order to achieve a high integration.
It’s a process typical of those systems undergoing a transition. Events are disposed not according to the Gaussian, but according to power laws (L. Barabasi, Bursts. The hidden pattern behind everything we do, Plume, 2010).

In start-up contexts, in particular, before a newborn organizational model is able to make sense of the accumulation of actions, the system experiences chaos. It is a chaos contaminated by self-organization processes. Lacking clear guidelines, people find a balance that is ultimately non-optimal but effective. This approach also allows the recognition and exploitation of resources that are useful for the pursuit of goals.

We can talk about self-organization when a high number of alternatives with low predictability occur. Self-organization is the ability to give answers without any coordination. This is possible if the system finds a balance between cooperation and competition. In well-established organizations leaders should create the conditions for self-organization processes to develop. Left to its own devices, a system generates uneasiness and anger towards leadership. In more mature phases leadership should be able to transform into self-restraint, a relational mode characterized by empathy, containment, timing, tolerance of ambiguity (various authors, Glossario di psicoterapia 1990). Participation is not only a way to increase commitment, but also to make the organization more complex and more reactive to stimulations.

In the traditional model we have: many rules (complication) – simplified organization (i.e., made unambiguous by rules) – simple answers (adaptation, low sensitivity).
In the complex model we have: participation (which requires few rules) – complex organization (many decision-makers, a lot of information, a number of different values, open conflicts) – complex replies (coevolution, open view, high sensitivity). The latter enhances distributed intelligence.

A. De Toni , L. Comello, L. Ioan (2011), Auto-organizzazioni, Marsilio, Venice, 2011


19.The engagement of employees is fundamental

In recent years this is one of the most significant themes, in a world where great certainties fade on models and values that are no longer current (scientific organization of work, superiority of manufacturing, continual growth etc.) Engaged employees express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally in the performance connected to their role. Engagement is often revealed by proactive behaviours and personal initiative. In general, however, engaged people have self-confidence, motivation, job satisfaction, commitment and performance.


20.The engagement of employees is possible if the leader is interested in their work, if he/she is accessible, if he/she enables, if he/she encourages questioning

In 2001 Alimo-Metcalfe & Alban-Metcalfe developed a questionnaire for the measurement of the Engaging transformational leadership, along the current of transformational leadership, consisting of 14 scales.The identified dimensions are Engaging individuals (Showing genuine concern, Being accessible, Enabling, Encouraging questioning) Engaging the organization (Supporting a developmental cultures, Inspiring others, Being decisive, Focusing team effort) Engaging stakeholders (Building shared vision, Networking, Resolving complex problems, Facilitating change sensitively) Personal qualities (Being honest and consistent, Acting with integrity). Engaging Leadership is connected to the other emerging current of Distributed Leadership (J.P. Spillane, Distributed Leadership, Jossey-Bass, 2006). D.L. (also referred to as shared, collaborative, post-heroic, leaderless) indicates the process (or the organizational architecture) that runs a system with no hierarchical roles, through a distributed exercise of leadership. This requires a high level of engagement of employees in order to activate responsibility taking dynamics. The conditions that allow the engagement and well-being of employees are identified by some authors in the concept of social capital.

21.The leader values his/her own passion

In his book Cosa resta del padre? (2012) Massimo Recalcati illustrates the emerging idea that fatherhood is no longer about safeguarding the rules (the repression of Oedipus complex by the father) but a testimony of passion. The leader’s role, in the fragmented and unpredictable context we live in, is probably not only to order and control, but also to give evidence to co-workers of the passion for a job well done. It’s not about indicating the best course (who can still do it nowadays?) but testifying that a way exists and must be sought


Reputation. On the web people are accountable for their own history, which is up-to-date and leaves a mark in time

22.Reputation is the capital of credibility and consistency available to the leader

Reputation is a powerful system of social control. It consists of two basic elements (Centro Studi Accademici sulla Reputazione,

trust: is about expectations of future behaviour of the organization. This is a long term reputational
component on which it is possible to build stable relationships with stakeholders. It is based on actions and is very difficult to repeat; consequently it represents a solid competitive advantage;

emotional involvement: is about feelings like admiration and sympathy. It is a facilitator of relationship trust with the stakeholders, on which it is possible to intervene through symbolism and emotionality of communication, without necessarily producing deep long term effects.

K.T. Jackson (2004). Building Reputational Capital: Strategies for Integrity and Fair Play that Improve the
Bottom Line

Joachim Klewes and Robert Wreschniok (2010). Reputation Capital: Building and Maintaining Trust in the 21st

James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner, Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It, 2nd Edition, Jossey-Bass, 2011

Social Capital An intangible asset that establishes trust and reduces costs

23.The leader builds social capital by sharing a common vision

The theme of Vision is central in the notion of transformational or charismatic leadership (B.M. Bass,
Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, London, The Free Press, 1985; B.M. Bass, Transformational Leadership: Industrial, Military, and Educational Impact. Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998). The leader organizes his/her action in 4 phases, the first of which is the idealized influence: leaders influence co-workers by means of their personal integrity, inspiring a stimulating vision and thus getting respect and spirit of imitation from co-workers. According to Natili (F. Natili, E. Pasini, Carisma, Garzanti, 2006), the vision has a containment function of the anxieties generated by change processes.

24.Social capital is the set of behaviour rules of a system that minimizes transaction costs and maximizes cooperation between subjects. It’s not located in individuals or in physical production structures

In the classic essay Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (1993) Robert Putnam was one of the firsts to use the term capital, with reference to the existing social structure in northern Italy. He recognizes “norms of generalized reciprocity and networks of civic engagement encourage social trust and cooperation because they reduce incentives to defect, reduce uncertainty, and provide models for future cooperation” (p. 177). Among the various other authors that deal with the theme, prominent is J. S. Coleman (Foundations of Social Theory , Westview Press, Boulder, 1990), founder of the micro-sociological approach. Coleman articulates
S.C. as reciprocity, potential of information, shared norms and punishments, the social organization that can generate unintended purposes. Ronald Burt interprets S.C. according to the Networks theory, as “the advantage created by a person’s location in a structure of relationships” (R. Burt, Brokerage and closure: an introduction to social capital, Oxford University Press, New York, 2005). Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak, authors of In Good Company: How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work, 2001, observe that trust, shared vision and mutual agreement connect individuals to each other and allow collective well-being.

25.The leader encourages the development of bonding and bridging social capital. The bonding social capital reinforces the organization identity. The bridging social capital builds a bridge between different entities, in the name of diversity integration.

In Here Comes Everybody, 2008, Clay Shirky explains in a particularly effective way the distinction between bonding and bridging social capital. The first is an increase in the deepness of connections and trust in a relatively homogeneous group. The second is an increase of connections among relatively heterogeneous groups. For example, when we think of lending money to someone, bonding increases the amount we are willing to lend to an established group of people; bridging increases the list of people to whom we are willing to make a loan. Another useful distinction is the one between Social broker and Boundary spanner. The first connects two separated systems by creating meeting opportunities among strangers. The second has a deep knowledge of both systems and therefore promotes an interdisciplinary meeting point between them.

The first leadership is considered “dangerous” by closed systems, as it may undermine identity. In any case, it extends its action by means of physical presence. The second one builds a bridge between different systems and its action takes place even without any physical presence (Bauwens , op cit.)

Innovation. In a hyper-competitive world that consumes ideas, products and services, the ability to innovate is decisive for survival.

26.Social capital is pivotal for innovation. Innovations are developed by connecting worlds that have different sets of knowledge

In his essay Structural holes and good ideas, 2004, Ronald Burt reviews innovation in a hi-tech organization. He notes that most good ideas come from people covering structural holes, namely those who have relations in other departments.

27.Keeping boundaries open and getting in touch with new know-how increases the company’s potential for innovation. Innovation can be open, in the sense that it doesn’t originate from the R&D function only

In Open Innovation (2003) Chesbrough constructs a model for open innovation.
Against the main idea that knowledge must be generated and carefully stored within the company, an emerging trend regards openness and exchange with the outside as the main drivers of innovation.

28.Real innovation goes through the innovation of the company’s culture. The responsibility of leadership is to foster cultural transformation

In The future of management, 2007, Gary Hamel refers to managerial innovation as the fourth, unmatched level of innovation to which it is necessary to access in order to acquire lasting competitive advantages. Managerial innovation is essentially a cultural innovation that includes a different way of thinking and performing business.

Management of mistakes. There can be no innovation if mistakes are not accepted.

29.Tolerance of mistakes is the mindset that allows the development of innovation

By studying the history of scientific thought it is possible to discover that a large number of major innovations were born by mistake. Penicillin, X-rays, dynamite, the radio, just to name a few. Paul Ormerod (Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics, 2006) studied the extinction process of animal species over the past 550 million years, going through fossil evidence. Considering the relationship between the size of an extinction process and its frequency he identified the following rule: if an extinction is twice as large, then it’s nine times more rare. He later studied the extinction of industrial giants and found that the rule is the same (for example, in 1968 six giants have disappeared). The law has the same trend considering much larger databases, like all of the small and medium-sized U.S. companies. This observation could lead to assume that decision-making abilities in companies are not relevant when probability of survival is concerned (strategies are useless, in the long run!). More concretely, it indicates the relevance of evolution principles with relation to success:

  1. try new things knowing that some will fail
  2. make sure that failures are sustainable because they will be frequent
  3. realize when you have failed

Failure is also a central theme in Li (op. cit., p. 217-241).

Trust and the desire to learn allow tolerating the frustration produced by failures.

30.A structured vision, cohesive groups and clear responsibilities can result in a difficulty to learn from mistakes

Paradoxically, neatly organized companies tend to delete ideas that are “outside the box”, or uncomfortable feedbacks, because they break routine and conformity. The same pattern of preventive control (planning and budgeting) can produce short-sighted reactions to unexpected news. With regards to this see:

T. Hartford, Adapt, Sperling & Kupfer, 2011
F. Varanini, Contro il management, Guerini, 2010

Collective intelligence. There is a super-individual intelligence and it can be activated

31.Leadership promotes collective intelligence

Interview with Pierre Levy , What is collective intelligence? “First of all we must be aware that intelligence is present wherever humanity is spread, and that such widespread intelligence can be fully exploited thanks to the new techniques and especially by making it synergic. Nowadays, if two people far away from each other know two complementary things, by means of new technologies they can really communicate with each other, share their knowledge, cooperate. This is ultimately, in very general and broad terms, collective intelligence”.

32.Collective Intelligence is the process whereby groups take charge of their challenges and future evolution, by using the resources of all members in such a way that a new level emerges, with new added qualities

  1. an emerging whole that goes beyond its parts
  2. the existence of a ‘holoptic’ space, which allows the participants to access both horizontal knowledge, of what others are doing, and access to vertical knowledge, i.e. about the emerging totality; to have collective intelligence, all participants must have this access, from their particular angle
  3. a social contract with explicit and implicit social rules about the forms of exchange, common purpose, etc.. etc.
  4. a polymorph architecture which allows for ever-changing configurations
  5. a shared ‘linked object’, which needs to be clear. This can be an object of attraction (theball in sports), of repulsion (a common enemy), of a created object (future goal, artistic expression).
  6. the existence of a learning organisation, where both individuals and the collective can learn from the experience of the parts
  7. a gift economy, in the sense that there is dynamic of giving in exchange for participating in the benefits of the commons.

(Bauwens, P2P and Human evolution, p.23)

MIT has a dedicated center for the development of collective intelligence – MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. See the contribution of Malone and others Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence

Cooperation Human behaviours are not just competitive. In the long run solidarity produces better results.

33. Collective intelligence is possible because human beings know how to be cooperative

In Supercooperators, 2011, M.A. Nowak has examined in depth the mechanism of cooperation. In particular, the systematic study of the Prisoner’s Dilemma showed that, in the long run, cooperative strategies tend to prevail but only if, given the non-cooperative behaviour of the other party, one is occasionally willing to betray.

34.In the long run cooperation increases the chances of survival of a system

Cisco (2012) – The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential, available at
Highly collaborative leaders share the following characteristics (page 3/9)
1) Authenticity: leaders must 1.1 work according to the organization’s commitment and 1.2 in the case of a conflict they devote to communication rather than arguing on decisions with their peers.
2) Transparency: collaborative leaders explain their decisions – There is a connection between the agility/resilience of a group and its transparency (Gary L. Nielson, Bruce A. Pasternack, and Karen E. Van Nuys, “The Passive Aggressive Organization”, Harvard Business Review, October 2005). If it is clear 2.1 who has made a decision 2.2 who will answer for the consequences 2.3 if such accountability is real, then people will spend less time wondering how and why a decision was made.
Other important elements are:
3) it’s not important just to share goals, but also resources, such as financial assets. Resources are working tools rather than possessions
4) codify the relationship between the right to decide, responsibilities and rewards. If the leader is not there to assign responsibilities, the system must, in any case, be guaranteed.

See also various authors, Del cooperare. Manifesto per una nuova economia, Apogeo, Milan, 2012

35.Competitiveness is not always opposed to cooperation. The main feature of open systems is that they often are coo-petitive (cooperation and competition coexist)

Cooperation is achieved when individuals, groups or companies interact with a partial coincidence of objectives. They cooperate, however, with the aim of maximizing value and achieve a competitive advantage. It is a relational model with a high rate of underlying conflict, in which uncertainty dominates. It develops positively if counterparts are able to dominate anxiety and think rationally.

See B.J. Nalebuff, A.M. Brandenburger, Coopetition, 1996; G.B. Dagnino, G. Padula., Coopetition strategy. A new kind of interfirm dynamics for value creation

Diversity Heterogeneity increases chaos, but when it’s governed it increases the chances of survival.

36.Different approaches to task performance and to problem-solving can coexist (not hampering one another), and learn from each other. Diversity increases the chances to successfully achieve goals and to develop new practices

The acknowledgement and enhancement of diversity is a founding dimension of team work. A group becomes such as it goes through a stereotypical perception of the task by its members. The integration of stereotypes in a common scheme allows the group to achieve the goal and to access a project planning (or improvement) stage. E. Pichon Riviere, El proceso grupal, 1971.
Diversity Management is a philosophy of human resources management that takes the form of tools/actions/projects aimed at managing and enhancing individual differences.
Open Organization Manifesto

Sense making. Acting in order to give sense. Reconstructing the sense of what has happened.

37.The leader should not assume that people understand the meaning of what is happening

In his foundational work Sense making (1993), Karl Weick illustrated the importance of the attribution of sense to complex events. This activity is crucial in relation to unprecedented, and therefore unpredictable, events. Sense making is often developed through storytelling, an alternative to the paradigmatic approach (Bruner) to the construction of knowledge.

38.The leader is a sense maker: together with co-workers, he/she strives to give sense to the past and to imagine future scenarios


Knowledge management. In a knowledge economy the development and exchange of knowledge is fundamental

39.Leadership deals with the generation and development of knowledge because intangible elements are pivotal for the creation of the value of products and services

Knowledge management is one of the most popular themes in the management literature of the last twenty years. For a comprehensive review on the approaches see A.F. De Toni, A. Fornasier, Knowledge Management, IlSole24Ore, 2012

See also the fundamental work of G. Simmel Knowing knowledge

40.The knowledge produced by an organization, including its internal debates and lessons learned, should be recorded and saved in archives that are accessible to everyone. In compliance with intellectual property, the sharing of knowledge inside and outside the organization generates benefits for individuals and for the community

The open concept of knowledge developed within the P2P Foundation led to the drafting of this
important subject in the Open Organization Manifesto. We adapted it by thinking, for example, of the manufacturing industry, where acquiring the property of drawings and patent rights on inventions are the only ways to defend the competitive advantage of companies.

P2P culture has suggested a substantial change in the concept of intellectual property in many fields, ranging from arts to manufacturing. The success of exchange P2P programs like eMule for music and video or platforms like Innocentive for matching offer and demand of intellectual labour indicate that new attitudes are changing the lives of people and organizations. In the latter case, the sharing of know-how, at least among employees, is an important aspect of the evolution of many companies.

41.Leadership pays attention to the organization of the invisible part of knowledge

About the spiral of knowledge and knowledge management see the fundamental contributions of I.
Nonaka, H. Takeuchi, The Knowledge Creating Company, University Press, Oxford 1995;On communities of practice see E. Wenger Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity, Cambridge University Press, New York 1998

The theories above focus on the transformation of the tacit knowledge existing in a system into explicit knowledge. Wiki systems such as Wikipedia were born as open solutions but they actually have a strong central
control on formal coherence and reliability of information. This results in an increase in the quality of knowledge, although the participation of contributors is slowed down.


42.The model of vertical leadership is inadequate for situations where knowledge is fundamental. In teams with very diverse skills shared leaderships works better

See Pearce, The future of leadership: Combining vertical and shared leadership to transform knowledge work

43.In order to favour the development of knowledge the leader can undertake the role of mentor or coach

Lean culture assigns a particularly important role to the learning encouraged by the Sensei, the Senpai and the Kōhai. The Sensei is a master, true expert in the discipline, and should be approached with respect. The Senpai instead is a Mentor, just as a junior student would consider a senior student. In Toyota it is said that “If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught”. Safeguard and transmission of knowledge and of Agile values is also relevant to the Agile culture. This role is performed mostly by the Scrum Master. Some researches reveal that low performing managers are the ones unable to help the others develop.

Therefore, in addition to negotiation, teaching is another emerging dimension of Open Leadership

44.Learning is possible as a result of continuous improvement

Continuous improvement is the basic principle of the Toyota method. It focuses on three basic principles:

Challenge: Having a long term vision of the challenges one needs to face to realize one’s ambition (what we need to learn rather than what we want to do and then having the spirit to face that challenge). To do so, we have to challenge ourselves every day to see if we are achieving our goals.

Kaizen: Good enough never is, no process can ever be thought perfect, so operations must be improved continuously, striving for innovation and evolution.

Genchi Genbutsu: Going to the source to see the facts for oneself and make the right decisions, create consensus, and make sure goals are attained at the best possible speed.

Well-being. There’s no more time for feeling good. Well-being needs to be planned.

45.Leadership works at increasing well-being because organizations were people feel good have superior performance

Barbara Fredrickson (Fredrickson, BL & T. Joiner, Positive Emotions Trigger Upward Spirals Toward Emotional Well-Being. Psychological Science, March, vol. 13 no. 2, 2002 pp. 172-175 – has investigated the effect of positive emotions at work. The result was an increasing spiral pattern (Broaden and Build Theory) that illustrates how joy, happiness, serenity, which can be considered as the atoms of well-being, determine the increase of cognitive capabilities in the individual worker. They lead to an increase in resilience, namely a person’s ability to deal with the adversities of life, to overcome them and even become reinforced and positively transformed. According to Fredrickson, well-being affects the individual ability to grasp the finer aspects of the reality in which we live. Well-being therefore results in a mental state of activation that makes the person more inclined to respond effectively to environmental stimulation.

Sustainable power

46.The leader takes a critical position towards contemporary value production models, perceives their contradictions and seeks sustainable solutions for him-/herself and for the group he belongs to

The relevant theoretical perspective are the Critical Management Studies (C.M.S.).

Critical Management Studies (C.M.S.) represent an alternative approach to the mainstream of business schools of the American tradition. The philosophical foundations of C.M.S. are the critical theory (Frankfurt School), French post-structuralism (Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze), feminism, the queer theory, post-colonial studies, the anarchist tradition, Marxism, ecological thinking (for a complete review, see the work of Alvesson and Willmott, 1992, 2003).

In addition to the contributions of the above quoted intellectual traditions, there is a distance between the common experience of many workers and managers and the acknowledged mainstream managerial theories. Hence the need to reconnect the “field” practice with a broader sociological and philosophical view.

In Italy the debate on contemporary forms of power (bio-power and bio-politics) is particularly animate among philosophers such as Agamben and Esposito.

This framework can also constitute the background for an analysis of power devices within organizations, with particular attention to the fact that nowadays power is revealed not by its “constraint” and restriction capacity, but also – and especially – as a stimulation towards an unlimited exploitation of vital resources.


For a critical analysis of the rhetoric connected to mainstream managerial and organization models see also: G. Masino, Le imprese oltre il fordismo, Carocci, 2005. Masino is a pupil and an associate of Bruno Maggi

Antifragility Being resilient is not enough. It is necessary to devise systems that after a trauma become even better.

47.The leader is committed to the success of the enterprise at the present time, but by investing on intangibles he/she improves the overall quality of the system

The open leader has a long-term vision and therefore invests both on tangible and intangible activities, the latter being those assets (cognitive, intellectual, of thinking, etc.) able to increase competitive abilities and well-being. For this reason the open leader knows how to hold together the useful and the useless. N. Ordine, L’utilità dell’inutile, Bompiani, 2013

48.Open leadership means to develop antifragile systems, i.e. able to improve as the result of a crisis

Nassim Taleb, the celebrated author of The Black Swan, has shown us that reality is never completely predictable and that a single rare event (irrelevant if we look at it along the Gaussian distribution) may well endanger the stability of a system. The crisis of 2008 is a significant example of a black swan. In December 2012 the same author published a book entitled Antifragile. His point is that resilience is not enough. Restoring a system as it was before the crisis is not enough. It’s not even enough to make it stronger, reinforcing security mechanisms. Sooner or later a traumatic event will blow everything up. Well, then systems must be designed as antifragile at their roots. Antifragile systems are the ones that after a crises are even improved. The ones that have an intrinsic ability to react and to reorganize themselves in the face of unforeseen circumstances. Taleb says: “When you want deviations, and you don’t care about the possible dispersion of outcomes that the future can bring, since most will be helpful, you are antifragile”, and again, companies should have  the “secret thirst of chance” (2012)