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The Power of Giving Away Power with Matthew Barzun

When leaders find the courage to distribute rather than hoard power, creativity multiplies, trust deepens and inclusivity expands

How did Dee Hock of Visa transform the way we pay for things? How did Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, create the biggest knowledge transfer engine the world has ever seen? And how did Barack Obama and his grassroots team revolutionise political campaigning? They did it by doing what most leaders dread – they gave away power.  

On July 19 Matthew Barzun, former US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, came to Intelligence Squared to share the leadership insights he has gained over the course of his successful and varied career. Setting out the themes of his new book The Power of Giving Away Power, he explained how for decades leaders shaped their organisations like a pyramid, with authority flowing down from the top. When that didn’t work, experts told leaders to adopt a bottom-up approach, which was no more effective (who wants to be at the bottom?). The reason they don’t work is because both top-down and bottom-up organisations form the same shape – a pyramid. 

Instead of the pyramid, Barzun advocates a different shape and mindset: constellations. Organisations designed as constellations are dynamic and flexible networks. Each member of the team is able to both stand out and fit in at the same time, to form something greater. When leaders find the courage to distribute rather than hoard power, creativity multiplies, trust deepens and inclusivity expands.  

Join us and learn how letting go of control can be one of the most empowering things a leader can do. 

 

Praise for The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go:

‘A brilliant challenge to conventions that have held back organisations for decades and a crisp playbook for making distributed leadership work for everyone.’ – Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief content officer of Netflix 

‘Matthew Barzun might well be the first modest man to write a great book on leadership.’ – Richard Thaler, Nobel Prize laureate and co-author of Nudge 

‘Bursting with insight, vision and creativity, The Power of Giving Away Power is a groundbreaking analysis of political leadership. Drawing on an unparalleled pedigree of experience, Barzun proves that we can build a better future if we build it together.’ – David Lammy


Speakers

Speaker

Matthew Barzun

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom and author of The Power of Giving Away Power: How the Best Leaders Learn to Let Go


Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom (2013 to 2017) and to Sweden (2009 to 2011). He worked on Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee and also as National Finance Chair for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Earlier in his career, Barzun helped shape the early development of the internet, spending a decade working for news and reviews website CNET. He left in 2004 to advise and invest in start-up internet companies.
Chair

Kamal Ahmed

Journalist, author and former BBC News Editorial Director


Journalist who has been Editorial Director of BBC News and BBC Economics Editor.  He has also held senior roles at The Telegraph Group, The Observer and The Guardian.   He recently co-founded The News Movement, a start-up dedicated to tackling misinformation. He is the author of The Life and Times of a Very British Man.

 

Speakers subject to change.