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Community Leadership Lessons from Open Source

1 minute read
by Alex Hillman

Charlie Robbins is a CEO. Which means, by his own definition, he’s a boss.

But more importantly, he’s a leader. He leads his company, Nodejitsu, and is a leader in the open source community  around the programming language Node.js.

One of the things that struck me as I watched Charlie’s talk about Open Source is that it was all about leadership – specifically, community leadership – and had almost nothing to do with Open Source.

Here are my notes from watching Charlie’s talk:

  • Being a “boss” (a.k.a. leader) means you have to deal with feelings, emotions, politics
  • People have dreams and aspirations – ignoring them makes people feel unappreciated
  • People make the most important choices in their life outside of their “work”
  • When people don’t communicate, things break down. But people have a lot of problems communicating among themselves. Effective leadership helps soothe that pain.
  • Ask one question: “What do you need to be successful?”
  • Communication isn’t a tree, it’s a “graph” (a.k.a. a network)
  • How do you push decisions to the “edges” of the graph?
  • Make it possible for anybody to be a leader  – this requires shared responsibility and participation
  • “People have problems. You don’t need to solve all of them.”
  • Repeated “policing” is a sign that you’ve done something wrong in creating the community as system
  • Create a confederation of “rules” that people can operate within
  • You need to figure out what people are thinking, sometimes without being able to ask directly
  • Be prepared to teach
  • Foster communication around what you are doing, and why you are doing it.
  • Strength of mind and character will help you through the mistakes
  • “The ability to let things which do not matter truly slide” – Tyler Duren
  • “When you do things right, people won’t be sure that you’ve done anything at all” – God to Bender in Futurama

 

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Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.