Following Socrates and Creating Empowerment

In: BlogDate: Apr 21, 2011By: Henry Stewart

It’s funny when I find myself quoted and it’s a better summary than I’d do myself.

I’m Chair of Governors of my local comprehensive school in Hackney. The headteacher emailed me to say she’d been reading a book on getting more students through GCSEs and found me quoted in the middle of it:

“I soon learnt that you can only create a second class copy of yourself if you manage yourself as a model. What you aim for is for people to feel they own their own job which means you set the principles and you agree the targets. You step back and let the people perform, any way they like, as long as its within the principles and hits the targets. You offer support.”

Intriguingly the authors put it in the context of Socrates’ views. Apparently he said “an essential part of empowerment in any post is a clear sense of what is expected of the post-holder.” I’ve not come across that before but I’d certainly agree with it.

For me the key is to create a clear framework and make sure there is lots of freedom within it for innovation. If you want the full explanation of the principles/targets/support approach do download the draft of my book, The Happy Manifesto. And if you want to find out how to get more students through GCSE, check out this book: Climbing Towards Excellence, John R Rowling and Wyll Willis, Trentham Books.


You can find out more about the principles of Henry’s book, the Happy Manifesto, and download your free copy on the dedicated Happy Manifesto website.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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