How do the best leaders learn to let go?

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 re-imagined 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 dread – they gave away power.

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Praise for The Power of Giving Away Power

"Anyone who seeks to be a better, stronger, wiser and more effective leader would do well to read this collection of engaging stories about the power of empowering others."

- MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and Mayor of New York, 2002-2013.

“A leadership manifesto like you’ve never read before. Every page is eye-opening, provocative, and energizing.”

– CHARLES DUHIGG, author of The Power of Habit

“Delightfully paradoxical and deeply insightful. Read it and lead differently.”

– ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, CEO of New America and former director of policy planning, US Department of State

“A gift. This is certainly the path to the collective leadership we need to tackle today’s challenges and shape a better future.”

– WENDY KOPP, CEO and cofounder of Teach for All and founder of Teach for America

“Matthew Barzun might well be the first modest man to write a great book on leadership. This is a gift.”

– RICHARD THALER, Nobel Prize laureate and coauthor of “Nudge”

“An extraordinary book about human flourishing, about linking properly to the best bits of ourselves and of others to move mountains. Enlightening and brain reviving.”

– ALAIN De BOTTON, author of “How Proust Can Change Your Life” and cofounder of “The School of Life”

"Full of compelling stories and hard-won wisdom. Inspiring."

- JON FAVREAU, Co-Host of Pod Save America

“This book is a breakthrough. It’s beautifully written, perfectly timed, and heralds a new way forward. I'm buying a dozen copies to share with friends and colleagues.”

– SETH GODIN, founder of altMBA and author of “The Practice”

“Fun, informative, and mind-expanding for everyone, whether you’re leading a business, a country, or a family.”

– DANNY MEYER, author of “Setting the Table” and “CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group”

“A brilliant challenge to conventions that have held back organizations for decades and a crisp playbook for making distributed leadership work for everyone.”

– TED SARANDOS, co-CEO and chief content officer of Netflix

“Bravo. These are ideas that can heal and inspire in a time when we are suspicious, tribal, at each others’ throats.”

– KEN BURNS, documentary filmmaker

“A book as provocative, energizing, and humane as Barzun himself. It points the way forward in a time which we desperately need new and better leadership.”

– ADMIRAL JAMES STAVRIDIS, U.S. Navy (retired), Supreme Allied Commander at NATO (2009-2013)




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