This week I and my family, as well as millions of people around the world, observe the holiday of Passover. The theme of this holiday, which celebrates the exodus from Egypt, is freedom.

I started reflecting upon this theme and its connection to leadership. I thought first about the freedoms that all my managers and leaders had granted me over the decades. Then I reminisced about the freedoms I had strived to grant to the teammates with whom I was privileged to work at Antioch Law School’s Center for Legal Studies, the Institute for Paralegal Training, and Georgetown Law Center.

Freedom is not necessarily a word associated with leadership. Rather, the words usually paired with “leadership” are those with which we are all familiar:


These words all relate to leadership of our teams, our teammates and our organizations. We are used to reading about these subjects in articles and books that examine the art of leadership.

I believe that the best leaders add freedom to their leadership lexicon. What kinds of freedoms am I referring to? Freedoms given to their teammates, freedoms that allow them to be their best selves and freedom to grow.

Here are a few freedoms I tried to give to my team members. How many of these do you think about and strive to grant to your own colleagues?
-Freedom to make mistakes

-Freedom to explore new ways of doing things

-Freedom to pursue their areas of interest

-Freedom to bring up uncomfortable topics

-Freedom to ask questions

-Freedom to disagree with you and question your reasoning

-Freedom to offer help to each other without being asked

-Freedom to enroll in professional development classes or webinars

-Freedom to attend out-of-town conferences

-Freedom to take vacations without feeling guilty

-Freedom to learn new skills so they can enhance their chances of moving up

-Freedom to work independently

-Freedom to adapt when necessary

-Freedom to trust themselves

-Freedom to ask for help

-Freedom to try new tools and methods

-Freedom to be their authentic selves

Leadership is best when it comes from the inside-out. We first must work on leading ourselves. Only when we have conquered that task can we focus on leading others. And when we focus upon leading our teammates and teams, we can achieve our best results by granting these diverse freedoms to our teammates as frequently as possible.

Remember that leading other human beings is a privilege. Let’s continue to treat it that way!

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