The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go
How do great leaders thrive in uncertain times? By changing their mindsets about power.
If you let go of hierarchy, chaos will reign...or so many leaders believe.
But when leaders find the courage to distribute rather than hoard power, creativity multiplies, trust deepens, and inclusivity expands...and a new kind of order emerges.
For decades, leaders forced their organizations to look like a pyramid, with all authority flowing from the top. That didn't work. Next, experts told leaders to adopt "bottom-up" leadership. But that's not working either. Top-down and bottom-up are the same organizational shape. And neither approach really enables innovation, collaboration, or enthusiasm. The problem is the Pyramid.
A few rare leaders have seen the pyramid for the trap that it is and have learned to embrace a new shape and mindset: Constellations. Organizations designed as constellations are dynamic and flexible networks of distinct yet interwoven individuals. Each member of the team feels like a singular star and is also connected to others to form something greater. That is how Visa reimagined how we pay for things, how Wikipedia beat the richest company in the world and how Barack Obama and his grassroots team revolutionized political campaigning. These leaders did what most leaders dread - they gave away power.
In this practical and personal journey, Barzun brilliantly layers lessons across history and industries with his own experiences as an internet entrepreneur, political organizer, and US ambassador to the United Kingdom and Sweden. With lessons for leaders of all types, The Power of Giving Away Power shows how the Constellation mindset shines in some of the most impactful organizations and innovations the world has ever known. And it encourages us all to recognize, as Barzun writes, "the power we can create by seeing the power in others" - and making the leap to lead. Together.
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