Freedom at Work – Traci Fento Book Summary

Freedom at Work – Traci Fento | Free Book Summary

Freedom at Work – Traci Fento

Freedom at Work is a groundbreaking book written by Traci Fenton. In her book, Fenton brings together decades of original research to show how freedom-centred leadership can bring about positive change in organizations and inspire employees to reach their full potential. The book covers a wide range of topics, from the foundations of freedom-centred leadership to practical strategies for implementing it in the workplace. 

Fenton also explores the importance of self-worth in the workplace and how to create an environment in which people can thrive and be productive. Freedom at Work is an essential book for any leader or organization looking to create a culture of freedom and empowerment.

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Dialogue and Listening

Dialogue and Listening develop harmonious, higher-performing teams. Unsurprisingly, research shows that teams that communicate better perform better. 

Without authentic, ongoing, real-time, and direct conversations where everyone can freely express themselves and listen to each other, a team isn’t in harmony, which means it can’t perform at its peak.

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Dialogue and Listening exchange the fear of not feeling heard for the freedom of expressing your voice.

In fear-based organizations, individuals constantly feel silenced and shut out. But in Freedom-Centered Organizations, the practice of Dialogue and Listening says, “I see you. You have value. Your voice matters.”


Transparency helps reduce fear and confusion. When employees don’t know the truth within their organization, they are filled with fear and confusion, which perpetuates gossip, backstabbing, fiefdoms, and politicking. Knowing the truth gives employees a greater feeling of freedom and self-determination.

Transparency builds massive trust. Many leaders ask for more trust from their employees without giving them the information they need to build that trust. But when Transparency of information empowers employees to see that good and timely decisions are being made and they are being treated fairly, it increases trust and eliminates the “us vs. them” divide.

The Areas where transparency matters

There are many areas where we as leaders should be more transparent with their colleagues and team members than not, including the following:

  • The financial health of your company, including profit and loss, sales, revenue, and spending
  • Salary Ranges
  • Criteria for Hiring, Firing, and Promotions
  • Decision-Making Processes
  • Strategy
  • Meeting Minutes, Including Board Minutes
  • Top-Level Meetings, Including the Executive Team and Board
  • Challenges and Mistakes Made
  • Employee Morale Levels
  • Customer Service Indicators
  • Turnover Numbers


Accountability cultivates an ownership mentality rather than a victim mentality. It replaces the “us vs. them” divide that can exist between teams and leaders with a shared spirit of Accountability. An ownership rather than victim mentality also leads to real and lasting engagement.

Accountability develops leaders with higher self-worth. Low self-worth leaders lack personal Accountability, always blaming others for their mistakes, inaction, or incompetence. Practicing personal Accountability helps leaders mature, cultivates moral courage, and increases inner joy. And when an organization has incorporated systems and processes of Accountability into the way they work, it naturally helps everyone develop a higher level of self-worth.

Tips for Accountability

Consider these tips for implementing Accountability successfully:

1.Model it at the top. Your top leaders must model accountability; otherwise, employees will see it as blaming and scapegoating.

2.Practice individual and collective accountability. There must be personal as well as collective Accountability to upholding your team’s or organization’s purpose, vision, and goals.

3.No hypocrisy. We all know what it’s like to see a leader unfairly admonishing an employee when they themselves have not been accountable for something.

4.Make it clear. Who is accountable to whom and for what must be extremely clear on every project and team.

5.Stop the blame game. Leaders must ensure that everyone feels comfortable sharing if they make a mistake, fail, or have a “learning moment” so that they are more willing to take accountability.


Decentralization makes your organization more agile and competitive. A decentralized organization is able to pivot and respond more quickly to changes in the market, laws, consumer tastes, and challenges compared to hierarchical, centralized companies.

Decentralized organizations are more stable than centralized ones. Centralized systems are overly dependent on one individual at the top calling the shots on everything. Remove them, and the entire system can collapse. Decentralized organizations have more broadly distributed leadership, making them more stable when there are leadership changes.


Choice gives us freedom. Without meaningful choices, we are literally locked into one way of doing things, unable to consider and decide between other options and possibilities.

Choice gives us power. Without real choices, we aren’t empowered to choose our own paths. We all know what it feels like when someone tells us what we have to do, without giving us any say in the matter. When you remove the option of choice from an individual’s life, they can feel backed into a corner, without a voice. It can trigger anger, conflict, and violence. Having meaningful choices, however, helps us regain a sense of power and perspective.

Fairness and Dignity

Fairness and Dignity increase engagement. In Freedom-Centered Organizations, where individuals feel seen and valued by leaders and colleagues, employees are more engaged and willing to go the distance in order to achieve a goal, together.

Fairness and Dignity enhance leadership development. When people know they have inherent value, it helps them let go of unhealthy and toxic behavior and become better leaders. And who wouldn’t want to be part of a team in which people are daily growing and deepening their sense of worth, confidence, and interpersonal skills? All of this translates to greater trust, higher morale, and joy throughout the organization as well.

Tips for success.

1.Reflect upon your own behavior. Is there something you as a leader are doing that is unintentionally or unknowingly (or even knowingly!) unfair or harming another’s sense of worth? Become aware of your actions and take personal accountability for correcting them.

2.Understand that sameness doesn’t equal fairness. Often organizations create one-size-fits-all policies in an attempt to be “fair” to everyone. Unfortunately, sameness is not the same as fairness. Instead, focus, when possible, on living the principle of Fairness, handling situations on an individual, case-by-case basis, rather than applying a blanket policy that only further angers people.

3.Take a stand against rankism and for the dignity of all. Insist on each person’s worth, regardless of their title or position in your organization, and consciously and intentionally design systems and processes that build people up rather than pull them down.

Reflection and Evaluation

Reflection and Evaluation help us grow, individually and collectively. When we’re afraid, we don’t grow—we just hunker down and protect ourselves.

But in democratically designed Freedom-Centered Organizations, leaders understand that Reflection and Evaluation bring continuous learning and promote positive growth. Fear stymies reflection and development. But if we can’t reflect openly and constructively evaluate where we’ve been, we simply can’t improve.

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