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The Leadership Triad : Knowledge, Trust and Power

Dale E. Zand

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Format: Hardcover, 221pp.
ISBN: 9780195092400
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pub. Date: 1997

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Description and Reviews
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Dale Zand highlights the three elements required for leadership in today's information-driven organizations: knowledge, trust, and power.

People once stood in awe of electricity, writes Dale Zand, until scientists identified and harnessed its three basic variables: voltage, current, and resistance. Likewise, people marvel at the achievements of successful leaders, such as Lee Iacocca at Chrysler or Jack Welch at GE, and wonder how they do it. In this superb volume, Zand dispels the mystery surrounding leadership so that managers at all levels--from the CEO to the shop supervisor--can develop the skills needed to lead effectively.

Zand highlights the three elements required for leadership in today's information-driven organizations: knowledge, trust, and power.

Knowledge, Zand argues, is essential to decision making: Leaders must be able to tap information about customers, products, and processes found throughout the organization. The book brims with suggestions about how to tap this knowledge. The author demonstrates, for instance, how a leader's attitudes and behavior can release (or repress) the flow of knowledge in a corporation (he shows how at one failed home-appliance company managers suppressed information about customer complaints and reprimanded factory workers for suggesting changes, fatal mistakes); he outlines how the skillful use of questions can draw out and highlight the knowledge managers and workers possess; and he discusses how to avoid subtle obstacles (such as the complacency of success) to improve the link between knowledge and action.

Trust, the second element of the triad, helps a leader achieve open, collaborative communication. Indeed, Zand shows that the degree to which people trust a leader determines how much access they will give him or her to their knowledge. The book explores the key elements in the development of trust (a leader must disclose relevant information, share influence, live up to the spirit of agreements, and not abuse power) and also illustrates some basic laws of trust—mistrust drives out trust; trust stimulates productivity; and mistrusting groups self-destruct.

Zand then considers power, showing how the leader must set the agenda for the firm; select, develop, and motivate the people who will implement the agenda; and examine and adjust individual performance. Equally important, he shows that in today's knowledge-driven corporation, the effective leader rarely issues directives, but instead acts more as a consultant or a client. At Chrysler, for example, CEO Robert Eaton, senior managers, and project leaders all meet when a new car model is to be created or redesigned. After the objectives are worked out, the team is turned loose to organize itself and get the job done. Freed from constant second-guessing by top bosses, teams work harder and take greater pride in their work. By the mid-1990s, this design-consignment process at Chrysler was so effective that the company's speed to market and reduction of development costs far exceeded its U. S. competitors.

Masterfully written, The Leadership Triad: Knowledge, Trust, and Power is a down-to-earth, powerful guide. Full of examples—many from the author's consulting experience—of companies from General Motors, Wal-Mart, and American Express to electronics, manufacturing, and health care organizations, it offers a wealth of practical information to managers at all levels, and to anyone who aspires to a leadership position.

  • Dispels the mystery surrounding leadership so that managers at all levels can develop the skills needed to lead effectively
  • Full of examples from companies such as General Motors, Wal-Mart, and American Express


The beauty of Zand's book on leadership, now a topic about which so much has been written, is its originality and its profound simplicity. Zand brings a lifetime of experience, deep clinical insight and novelty that every leader/manager/supervisor—you name it—will find required reading.
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Souther California

If you want to learn how to build knowledge for action, to develop trust, and to use power for effective leadership, read this book.
—Chris Argyris, Graduate School of Business Administration,
Harvard University


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Table of Contents
Introduction: The Leadership Triad3
1Leadership: The New Conditions13
2Finding Knowledge24
3From Knowledge to Action46
4Learning and Knowledge64
5Knowledge Stress and Knowledge Workers80
6Trust and the Decision Process89
7Determinants of Trust106
8Laws of Trust122
9Legitimate and Decision Process Power137
10Agenda, Staffing, and Review Power151
11The Power of Leaders As Consultants164
Conclusion: Teamwork and Triadic Integration185

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