Season 1: Finding and keeping great people

Duke Stump Chief Brand Officer at Newlab

How to free your team to enhance your brand

Women planning

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of great brands to positively impact societies and cultures. To bring people together. To push boundaries and create original ideas that celebrate something important beyond the products or services they sell.

That stems from a deeper purpose. A deeper drive. The desire to bring about change or bring something new to the world. People sense when a brand has soul and purpose, and when they do, they join that journey.

For more than 30 years I’ve been fortunate to have worked with pioneering people and companies across the globe. Each experience was unique, yet a beautiful energy bound them all: the power of their internal cultures.

To know is to be in prison. To not know is to be free


For me, today, the soulful nature of what business could be has been hijacked. Too often companies are shaped by the need to know what’s going to happen. They play safe. They become rigid, mechanical. Lost is the sense of wonder, the desire for new ideas and adventure.

So how do we create the conditions to reawaken that sense of intrigue and playfulness? The following three ideas outline how the beauty of not knowing can breathe new space and energy into your business:

1. Let go and empower people

For so many of us, freedom and trust are empowering. So, as a leader or manager, why not try stepping back sometimes? Don’t dictate. Encourage your team to explore. Don’t give them metrics and targets which can dull their intuition. Instead, ask important questions. And recognise the lessons to be learned from making mistakes.

2. Decentralise control

The natural world has no command and control centre, yet it has flourished for 3.8 billion years—while we’ve been here a hot second. In my view, decentralised organisations reflect that same dynamic of natural discovery. They are a force of good in business. Your role is to create these same conditions. Then, let people play.

3. Quieten your cleverness

The best cultures are learning cultures, and the best leaders, learning leaders. Rather than having all the answers, they ask great questions. Creating an environment that encourages curiosity and enquiry is vital to the drive for new discovery. New ideas and diversity thrive in these environments.

At the heart of all vibrant cultures is an effortless sense of loyalty. Remember, empowering others isn’t a weakness. Encouraging them to seek out new ideas and answers isn’t foolish. It’s the best form of leadership. An amazing gift. The more space for original thinking that you create, the richer your business will be.

Not knowing is truly beautiful.