empowerment leadership

I love it when someone nails down something that is lingering in my head. In the May – June 2020 edition of the Harvard Business Review I came across an interesting summary of the book “Unleashed : the Unapolegetic Leader’s Guide to Empowering Everyone around You” by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss. I copy here some of what I highlighted in the article.

Trust is one of the most essential forms of capital a leader has. Building trust, however, often requires thinking about leadership from a new perspective. The traditional leadership narrative is all about you : your vision and strategy; your ability to make the tough calls and rally the troops; your talents, your charisma, your heroic moments of courage and instinct. But leadership really isn’t about you. It’s about empowering other people as a result of your presence, and about making sure that the impact of your leadership continues in your absence.

That’s the fundamental principle we’ve learned in the course of dedicating our careers to making leaders and organizations better. Your job as a leader is to create the conditions for people to fully realize their own capacity and power. And that’s true not only when you’re in the trenches with them but also when you’re not around and even – this is the cleanest test – when you’ve permanently moved on from the team. We call it empowerment leadership. The more trust you build, the more possible it is to practice this kind of leadership.


Trust has three core drives : authenticity, logic and empathy. People tend to trust you when they believe they are interacting with the real you (authenticity), when they have faith in your judgement and competence (logic), and when they feel that you care about them (empathy).

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