• Open source pioneers advocate open leadership
  • Open source pioneers advocate open leadership

    Sales and marketing leader explains the importance of open leadership

    Open source software giants Red Hat has adopted open leadership and its sales and marketing are seeing benefits.  Joanna Hodgson, Director of Presales for Red Hat in the UK and Ireland told business leaders at the Women in Business Expo how a move to an open leadership culture is benefiting the software business.  

    "Leadership matters at Red Hat," Hodgson told a busy conference in Farnborough. "And we believe that open leadership matters more. We have an open culture and we encourage an open environment," she said of working for Red Hat

    "For many in the business they turn up to work to be the best that they can be, they are self motivated and self disciplined," Hodgson said of how an open culture reduces the need for miro-management. 

    So what is an open leader? According to Hodgson and Red Hat it's a person that is approachable and shares information, but adds that openness has degrees and the difference is very personal, from one individual to the next. 

    Hodgson explains that open leadership demonstrates itself in different ways across the organisation. Team leaders are not necessarily responsible for a team, "but they can galvanise teams to come together and achieve something". Organisational leaders are more likely to be responsible for leadership and Hodgson says these are people who can "drive beyond" barriers that individuals hold, for example if there is poor collaboration in a team. 

    As to senior leaders, such as the CMO or possibly even the CEO, Hodgson told attendees these are Enterprise Leaders and they act as a catalyst that allows all parts of a team to get an objective done.  The sales leader added that these are all types of open leadership. 

    How to be open

    Hodgson said there are three elements to being an open leader, these being your mindset, behaviour and practices.  The mindset of an open leader is to believe that "everyone has untapped potential". She added that open leaders are good at extending trust, passing skilled requirements to other members of the team and therefore showing them trust and in doing so bringing more skills and diversity into a piece of work, which often improves the outcome. 

    For an organisation to create a team of open leaders, as Red Hat has, Hodgson says the business has to have a purpose that all team members and in particular open leaders connect with. In addition there needs to be a strong culture of connection between individuals in the business. She reminded executives at the event that "there are times when your organisation will need to reconnect with the purpose". 

    The technology marketer says being transparent is vital. "If you are transparent those who share the same interest will find you and you can develop a community around that interest," she says. Adding that ideas should be shared in blog posts for example and that in doing so make sure you share the success and failure stories. 

    Red Hat was founded in 1993 as a supplier of enterprise open source enterprise software and earlier this year was acquired by IBM. Red Hat has been at the forefront of open source adoption having created the Enterprise Linux operating system that provides organisations with storage, middleware, applications, management tools as well as support. IBM completed its acquisition of Red Hat in July 2019 in a deal worth $34 billion. 


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    About Mark Chillingworth

    Mark Chillingworth is Contributing Editor to Tech Marketers and one of Europe's leading CIO Editors


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