The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go | Matthew Barzun, Optimism Press, p240.
Juxtaposing the symbolism of our nation’s founding images: the dollar’s pyramid versus the crest’s constellation, the author proposes a dichotomous model for leadership and organizational structures. Top-down. Or fluid and organic.
The either/or proposition type helps illuminate a point or draw distinctions even if its applicable, direct lessons could be more robust. The main argument is the better way of aping the symbolism of our founding constellation, which represents “independent bodies freely choosing to behave in concert to accomplish something bigger than each could have alone.” The writer intones, “Leadership flows as dictated by evolving needs. With vision and mutual commitment, power is given away, then grows, and more is returned.” Barzun was a dot.com entrepreneur turned American diplomat (Ambassador to Sweden & the UK) via a stint as a fundraiser for Barack Obama. Yet his writing is surprisingly nonpartisan.
As an evangelist for this position, Barzun must make a case for real-world applications. He draws on the famous example of Wikipedia’s success: a non-profit with free labor that hardly provides a stand-in for enterprises with wage exchanges.
Nevertheless, what the book lacks in practical appeal, it makes up for inspiration and a call for leadership models that empower more than dominate.