Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion


After another Spring break, (“le pont du mois de mai”: “bridge” for long May week ends  in France…), I’m back  with an Inspiring  Role Model for Women Leaders.

Following up with my Women Speakers Series, here is another illustration for the Innovator Style of Leadership, with Charlene Li.

The corporate world would be such a better place if more leaders were to invent a new kind of leadership, an “innovative leadership”, an open leadership, opening new possibilities, solutions and collaborations. We need more role models, especially for girls and women, to show us the way and inspire us to action. That’s the reason why I’m writing this series, and collecting stories of remarquable women leaders, from different cultures, with different personal styles and values. We can’t identify anymore with the stereotyped representation of the “LEADER” ( a WASP Superhero). We aspire for different models, reflecting the diversity of the world, in cultures, in genders, in classes, in skin colors, and …in souls also.

Now, back to Charlene Li!

Typically, someone communicating
with a strong preference for The Innovator dimension (from the SPM Spony Profiling Model), would be seen as:

“Prolific and creative brain-stormers who are
attracted by abstract issues and intellectual challenges. Attached to
freedom of expression, they feel comfortable in initiating original and
unconventional projects.”

are many American women leaders who fit in The Innovator Style of Leadership and Communication
. Just like the Persuader and the Pioneer
styles, it makes perfect sense with the Anglo-Saxon cultural result and change orientation:

  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Pragmatic
  • Informal style
  • Openness for change

One of the most famous today is Charlene Li, and I want to make a
special post about her and highlight her communication and leadership style.

Who is Charlene Li?   Who does she know?    What does she do?

I’m asking these 3 questions, because it’s what Charlene stresses in
her talk, and I found it original and fun to present her this way, as

Who are you? IDENTITY

Who do you know? RELATIONSHIPS

What do you do? ACTIVITIES

Who is Charlene Li?

Her Identity? You can find everything about her on her site:

She’s the founder of Altimeter. Altimeter is ” a strategy firm that provides clients with a pragmatic approach to
using new technologies”.

Charlene Li

Three keywords here: Pragmatic, New and Technologies

Who does she know and who knows her?

” Charlene is frequently quoted by leading media channels such as The
Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, and The
Associated Press. She has appeared on 60 Minutes, The McNeil NewsHour,
ABC News, CNN, and CNBC.  As noted social technologist, Charlene has
earned a vast following through her blogs, website, columns, articles,
and keynotes.”
(from her website)

Her social networks could be illustrated by one of them, Twitter:

Twitter Charlene Li

What does she do?

She “provides clients with a pragmatic approach to
using new technologies”

She creates: she writes blogs and books (the last one is a must read “Open Leadership”, I have ordered it and will write a post about it very soon)

… and she speaks at SX about The Future of Social Networks!

Why is she emblematic of the Innovative Leadership and communication style?

She was named one of the 12 most creative minds of 2008 by Fast
Company, and one of the most influential women in technology 2009.

She’s innovative in the way she talks:

  • Simply
  • With energy and passion
  • Openly
  • Fast paced
  • Informally, dressed casually

She’s innovative in what she says:

  • Future oriented she takes us 5,10,15, 20 years from now!
  • Visionary: “The Social network will be like air” “Open: how open leaders win by letting go”
  • Planting new Ideas, Encouraging Change“The open network will be the new norm.”

“Leaders will engage at all levels, outside as well as inside the organization.”

She’s a role model for the next generation of girls and young women entrepreneurs and business owners and might also be an inspiration for women executives who aspire to be on the 21st century boards!

She’s congruent : her style of communication conveys who she really is, how she’s perceived as a leader, leading from the inside out, openly and pragmatically. She really is an open leader.

“If you truly want to get advantage of the social networks, you’ve got to get your own identity, inside your house, in order.” Charlene Li.

If you truly want to be a leader, start by leading yourself, with your own style and create your own life!

Next, in Geronimo Leadership Women Series, the Networker, with Arianna Huffington

18 thoughts

  1. I’m really pleased you’re writing this series on women leaders. Following this month’s general election in the UK, I find it depressing that a coalition government predominantly made up of white, middle-class, Oxbridge educated men should smugly proclaim that they are the initiators of an era of “New Politics”! Fortunately, there’s been a tiny bit of good news today: Diane Abbott, a black woman and Labour member of parliament, announced her candidacy in the upcoming contest for the leadership of her party. But we mustn’t be complacent, because wherever you look, there are simply too few women and ethnic minorities in leadership roles. Keep up the good work, Marion! Cheers, Martin

  2. Marion, I love how you are highlighting different leadership styles to show how women (and men) can be successful even though they may be “different” from the prevailing models of success.
    It’s interesting that she’s talking about the future of social networks, and has a large group of followers (almost 35,000) on Twitter, yet she follows only 252 people. That seemingly contradicts the concept of forging relationships through social media.

  3. This is a really comprehensive post, Marion. I really like the lengths you go to in your series on women leaders to provide a well rounded view of each woman. It clearly highlights the possibilities for other women and sends the message that leadership comes in many forms.
    Being a woman with only basic technological skills, I like Charlene’s vision of Social networking being like air. It is simple and yet paints a very clear picture that I, (in my technologically challenged way), can relate to.
    There is one thing that strikes me about all of the women in your series so far. They are all genuine in their personal presentation and demeanour. There is something very reassuring about that.
    And, what a great reference point your blog posts are to women who are looking for role models!
    A Great post, well done.

  4. Marion, kudos to you (one more time) for addressing a relevant topic. This post brings Charlene Li alive for any of us who don’t know and appreciate her work. (And reminds those of us who do, why we do. ) Your organization of ideas makes it easy to read quickly and the quality of the post makes it enjoyable to linger over. You are a gem and thank you for this post. And then…just thank you.

  5. There are so many uses for Social Media that we are only discovering. If your message is compelling and you are focused more on delivering it than on creating relationships, that ratio might be just right! It is this type of innovative leadership that defies ideas like “you should follow back on Twitter” and uses resources creatively!
    Interesting, too, about the informal style and how it seems to work so well for some and be so much in the way for others. It probably traces back to authenticity. Is your style aligned with an informal way of being or a more polished one?

  6. Hi Marion,
    As the other commentators have noted, I think you’re doing a great job showcasing the variety of styles of communication that one can employ to be effective in a leadership role. I also like the fact that you’re using this as a platform to offer various role models for girls, women and even men to see as examples of women leaders. Through your examples, you’re helping to highlight people of different races, cultures, ethnicities, personalities, and vocations, variations that help to offer possibilities and insights that wouldn’t normally be evident by simply focusing on just one of these markers.
    Bravo, Marion. Looking forward to the next installments in your series.

  7. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Gwyn Teatro submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    Thank you so much, Gwyn!
    Reading comments like yours encourages me to keep on writing, when millions of “good excuses” come in the way. Very grateful!

  8. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Allen Mireles submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    I’m a lucky girl,Allen,  to be cheered and cherished by amazing women…The real proof, if needed, that women sisterhood is strong, alive and kicking! MERCIIIIIIIIIII!

  9. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Monica Diaz submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    How are you managing, Monica? Every post I read, and “think about” commenting, you’re almost always there before, and have left a smart comment!
    You’re a living example of caring and active social presence!
    I agree with the ratio, followers, following, what is most important is the depth and quality of the connections you choose to make, rather than the reciprocal follow.
    I guess you’d be rather informal, in the way you present and speak, with a lot of warmth, empathy and presence!
    Thanks again for taking the time to engage, with your intelligence, your humour and your heart.

  10. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Tanveer Naseer submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    Thank you Tanveer, who is competing for the most supportive women’s ambassador in leadership!
    Again, you help me tremendously by speaking your voice here, as I believe women need to walk hand in hand with men in an innovative way. It motivates me to keep on bringing on examples, stories and role models, for next generation women , for our girls! (and I was thinking of your two girls, too!)

  11. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Mary Wilson submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    Mary, your comment here reminds me of why I write about so many different styles and cultures, so that we develop understanding and respect for diversity.
    About your remark regarding the number of people Charlene Li follows, I understand it can seem at first a paradox and like she doesn’t really care to answer her “fans”.
    However, it’s about personal choices, priorities, enhancing quality over quantity, and also depending on the objectives that you have when you’re on twitter.
    Managing 34 997 followers is something I cannot even start to imagine!
    Tweeting from the heart to 252 people you care for seems a challenge for someone as busy and famous as her!
    We’re all different, aren’t we? 🙂
    Thank you again, Mary for your support and encouragements, very appreciated.

  12. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Martin Shovel submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    As I’m answering each of these “treatscomments” backwards, 24 hrs after, I come to you last, Martin, and you were the FIRST!
    Thank you for sticking with me after my shift from purely presentation techniques focused posts and tweets, to more communication in general and leadership…
    You arouse my curiosity for Diane Abbot and I will “Google” her…Hope she comes to you and Martha for her speech! Is she on twitter? I may write a post about her. What do you think?
    And I like your “Oxbridge” reference…

  13. Marion – kudos on another addition to a most interesting, and insightful, series of posts on women leaders. The myriad world events — the US recession, Greece’s economic woes, Wall Street’s greed, oil spilling into our oceans — occurring on the watch of male-dominated organizations signals the time for more women in leadership. Women must create the kind of world described by Matthew Arnold, English poet and cultural critic, “If ever the world sees a time when women shall come together purely and simply for the benefit and good of mankind, it will be a power such as the world has never seen.” Let’s make it so, shall we?!

  14. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Jane Perdue submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    Thank you for this enthusiastic comment, Jane, like usual, I can count on your support.
    Matthew Arnold’s quote is very timely, and I think you will enjoy my next post, that I will publish Thursday.
    It feels good to belong to a community of men and women who share the same passion and ideal for diversity and transformation of the workplace. Let’s make it so, dear Jane!

  15. I love your showcasing of these women speakers, Marion!
    I’d never heard Charlene speak, so I appreciate your bringing her into my awareness. Thanks for outlining her communication style. Great stuff!
    I’d add a 4th question: What do you want? Knowing what your goal is and how it ties to your overall strategy is a key driver of how you use these various platforms.

  16. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] ava diamond submitted a comment on "Innovator Charlene Li Communicates her Vision with Passion"
    Excellent question, Ava!
    Yes, having in mind our Focus and what we really want, boosts our action.
    On that, I’m going to design my own Vision Board for the week and for June, which will pass too quickly if I don’t really pay attention to what I really want… Thanks for this essential reminder!

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