Lead Together | An Excerpt from the Leadership & Strategy Category

Tania Luna

December 07, 2023


A new approach to leading teams and distributing power that creates a fairer, more fulfilling workplace and world, as told in the narrative tradition of Lencioni, Kotter, and Quinn.

As Porchlight's Managing Director Sally Haldorson recently wrote: 

We often overcomplicate leadership, but when a book is as accessible and applicable as Lead Together, it can be a straightforward tool to share with everyone on your team and in your organization to bring about one critical changeempowering people so that everyone leads together.

The following excerpt comes from the book's Introduction, and lets the reader know about the delightful world they're about to encounter. 

Lead Together by Tania Luna

You are about to go on a strange and important adventure.  

Sometimes it will feel like you’re reading a business book, full of practical tactics to increase the effectiveness, energy, and adaptivity of those around you. A handbook for preventing burnout, bias, bottlenecks, and conventional thinking. A blueprint for building an unstoppable team. A guide to becoming the kind of leader who leaves every person you meet a little better. Other times it will feel like you’re reading a novel, full of twists, turns, and peculiar characters who help you see reality in a new light. Sometimes your mind will race ahead with plans for real-life application. Sometimes, you’ll get lost in self-reflection, wondering who you are as a leader (and a person) and who you want to become. You might try to tell the people in your life what you’re reading and how it’s impacting you and struggle to explain just what kind of book it is.  

“It’s about sharing power as a way to build stronger, more resilient teams,” you’ll say, and they will nod with interest and perhaps even approval. But then you’ll say, “as told through a story about squirrels…” And their eyes will widen. “In the workplace,” you’ll add. And their heads will tilt to the side. They’ll ask if it’s one of those cute business parables. “It’s more like philosophical fiction,” you’ll say, “with practical applications.”  

“For squirrels?” they might ask, if they’re the snarky type.  

“For everyone,” you’ll answer.  

Sometimes you’ll wish this book took a more conventional approach, simply laying out all the tactics for you to collect and apply.  

You’ll find periodic summaries and check-in questions to help you paws and transfer insights back into your life (along with an abundance of squirrel puns I hope you won’t critter-size me for over-using). You can access bonus tools, resources, and a community of values-aligned people at www.TaniaLuna.com. You’ll also get a comprehensive guide to all the ideas in the book, but not until the end, once you’ve completed your journey. That’s because ideas do their best work through story.1 Ideas are most powerful and beautiful not as plucked flowers dropped into a pretty vase but as seeds buried in the soil of our minds, where they grow into wild things, native to their land. We might never know how squirrels’ minds work, but we know ideas seeds are at the root of how we humans learn and how we make ideas stronger—not by being told what to think but by having the power to come to our own conclusions.  

Now as for the ideas in this book … You’ll find that many of them feel timely, even urgent. You’ll recognize that our deepest struggles at work, in society, and across our planet today have to do with poor power distribution. You’ll see that it’s our greatest vulnerability, especially in the midst of change and uncertainty. You’ll diagnose it as the glaring cause of stress, distrust, and disengagement, not just among those who have too little power but also those who hold too much—those lonely leaders who long for a team to lift the weight of the world off their shoulders. You’ll realize our relationship to power is fundamentally broken and needs repair. And you’ll discover how to use your own power to mend this relationship and build a more fair, fulfilling, and flourishing world within and outside the workplace.  

Many of these ideas may feel fresh, but they have been growing for a long time under the care of many wise gardeners. Some of these individuals and their insights will make appearances in the book. Rest assured any research they mention is based on actual scientific findings with humans, rather than squirrel, participants. For research citations see the Notes section. For a full cast of characters and the people who inspired them, turn to the Inspiration section following the story.  

Chief among these characters is a brilliant thinker and writer named Mary Parker Follett, who lived between 1868 and 1933 and thoroughly stirred up business culture with her power-with philosophy. She was highly influential in her time, yet, despite several efforts to bring her into modern consciousness, she and her thinking have been mostly lost to us. Perhaps this time we’re ready to listen, and her ideas will finally break through.  

Before a wise friend of mine introduced me to Mary Parker Follett’s writing, I came to many of the same conclusions via my personal experience, eight decades after Follett’s time. Without realizing it, my coworkers and I turned our company, LifeLabs Learning, into a practice lab for sharing power in the workplace. We implemented each of the tactics in this book and reaped the rewards. Throughout my tenure as co-CEO, not only did we help roughly two thousand companies become richly collaborative and fulfilling places to work, but we also grew our own organization from the ground up to over $30 million in revenue, 150 employees, 96 percent employee engagement, and less than 2 percent attrition, without outside funding and even through a pandemic. Most rewarding of all, we became the kind of community that continues to make each other better.  

At my current company, Scarlet Spark, we help leaders in the animal protection movement thoughtfully share their power to create organizational-level and world-level change. In the meantime, we experiment on ourselves so we can keep discovering new ways of amplifying each other’s power. In short, none of the ideas woven into this book exist in the realm of theory (or squirrels). Every single one is backed by a combination of academic research and lived experience.  

But the most important ideas all along this adventure will be your own. These are ideas that will help you understand the nature of power at work and in life. These are ideas that help you lead not from the front or from behind, but to lead together. These are ideas that will make you a more powerful leader and person. That, in and of itself, is a worthwhile outcome. But it’s only the first step. The next is to ask yourself: How will I use my power? 


Excerpted from Lead Together: Stop Squirreling Away Power and Build a Better Team.
Copyright © 2023 by Tania Luna.
Reprinted with permission of Peakpoint Press.
All rights reserved.


About the Author

Tania Luna is a psychology researcher and entrepreneur. She has built multiple businesses including LifeLabs Learning, one of the top leadership development companies in the world, and Scarlet Spark, a nonprofit that helps create human-friendly workplaces for organizations that help animals and our planet. Across her work, Tania strives to inspire interconnectedness among all living beings to achieve mutual flourishing. 

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