My book review of 'The Power of Giving Away Power' by Matthew Barzan

by Matthew Barzan
The Power of Giving Away Power
by Matthew Barzan

I do enjoy a good business book! And particularly an American business book. There's something about the optimistic 'can do' attitude that is so energising and inspiring, making any business setting seem creative and exciting. I remember 'The Experience Economy' particularly fondly, and also 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins.

For decades, leaders have created a hierarchical structure in their businesses, with authority flowing from the top down, from the few to the many, like a pyramid structure. Then that was turned on its head, with a bottom up approach. And that didn't work either. The pyramid whichever way you look at it, is wrong, says Matthew Barzun.

When leaders find the courage to distribute rather than hold on to power, he says, "creativity multiplies, trust deepens and inclusivity expands, and a new kind of order emerges".  

Himself an entrepreneur, political organiser and US ambassador to the UK and Sweden, he brings considerable insight and experience which he shares in a light, concise and very readable way.

Taking familiar American symbols, and the dollar bill in particular as a visual prompt, he urges the reader to look at effective leadership to be in the form of a constellation of stars. Each individual is distinct, special and significant and when they are recognised as such, they can contribute powerfully for the good of the whole organisation.

Barzun gives examples throughout history and industry, quotes from other significant business theories, and highlights great leaders who are not afraid to listen to others, and to give power away. It's truly fascinating, inspirational and energising. Brilliant!

Review date: December 2021
Publication date: 10th June 2021