The power of freedom and responsibility in business

Book cover Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty Mccord

When I spotted Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility on the Wall Street Journal’s list of 11 leadership books to read in 2018 I knew it was a book I had to read.

Written by Patty Mccord, former Chief Talent Officer for Netflix, Powerful is a fresh perspective on leadership and the culture shift that helped make Netflix the company that it is today.

I was excited when we were asked to choose a book for our Perspectives of Leadership course. Like most busy moms, I don’t make a lot of time for myself. Forced reading for pleasure? Yes please.

Powerful did not disappoint. Much like Netflix manages to keep me binge-watching, Patty Mccord had me hooked from the beginning and I couldn’t put it down.

The culture that went viral

You wouldn’t expect a bland 127 slide PowerPoint to go viral, but for Netflix, that’s exactly what happened.

The concept seems counterintuitive at first, but as you dig in, it makes a lot of sense. If I had to sum it up in a few words, it would be these:

Hire competent Adults

Find people who take initiative, work hard, and keep the company’s best interests at heart.

Treat people like competent adults

Give your team the freedom to make decisions, and respect their judgement. Remove restrictions wherever possible.


Encourage open communication company-wide. Be transparent.

Be Honest

Speak candidly and directly. Only say things about your coworkers you would say to their face. Admit your own mistakes.

Netflix has since updated their cultural mandate with the addition of inclusion, and has replaced “honesty” with “integrity” in their values, to reflect the role that respect plays in radical honesty.

As someone who isn’t a fan of rules for the sake of rules, I was impressed by the growth Netflix has experienced while eliminating procedures that most view as necessary.

But my biggest take away from this book has nothing to do with business. Powerful has inspired me to look critically at my own leadership style, and examine how that relates to my parenting process.

Can I toss all the rules? No. Can I learn to create an environment that breeds more freedom and responsibility? I’m curious.

Patty Mccord spent 14 years as the Chief Talent Officer for Netflix and is now a consultant, speaker, and author. You can find her online at:

LinkedIn Patty Mccord

Twitter @pattymccord1