July 2020
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The Ripple Effect

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Unleashed: The Unapologetic Leader's Guide to Empowering Everyone Around You

By Frances Frei and Anne Morriss
Harvard Business Review Press, 240 pp., $30


In Unleashed, Frei and Morriss center successful leadership on one concept: empowering others. Both advocates for diversity and inclusion and leadership change management, they use career anecdotes to bring to life the idea that leadership is about making a long-lasting, positive impact on your team, even when you're not there.

To produce this type of impact, the authors present the Rings of Empowerment Leadership: trust, love, belonging, strategy, and culture. Each builds on the other. The first three rings comprise the foundation that leaders create while being present with their teams, and the last two are formed in the leaders' absence.

Through exercises, sidebars, and reflection questions, the book provides insightful information on how to address the rings. With these consistent elements, readers can apply the concepts and create actionable steps toward building each ring.


The exercises helped me to better understand how each ring influences empowerment leadership. The Trust Triangle, for example, outlines the three attributes of trust: authenticity, logic, and empathy. All three build the foundation for your team to trust you. Trust Diagnosis exercises guide you in discovering your trust wobble and trust anchor. Identifying both is the first step toward strengthening the trust ring. The authors then provide examples of each attribute to help you create actionable steps toward building the trust ring.

Like the Trust Diagnosis exercises, the chapters trigger an introspective reflection: How do you show up as a leader? Are you making a difference in team members' development? Is your leadership influence present even when you're not?

Although previous leadership literature discusses the concepts examined in this book, Frei and Morriss take on a fresh, casual, and more personal approach. I encourage you to read the book with an open mind. As a leader, you are the rock that when falling into still water creates a ripple effect of waves that continues on even after the rock is no longer there. Use this resource to help you create the ripple effect that you want within your team and organization.

About the Author

Tatianaide Medina Nieto is a leadership development specialist for Spectrum; tatianaide [email protected].

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