WorldBlu CEO Traci Fenton Underlines the Three Things Required to Create a Freedom-Centred Culture

In: BlogDate: May 23, 2020By: Billy Burgess

WorldBlu CEO Traci Fenton believes we’re all meant to live our fullest potential. Through WorldBlu, Traci’s spent the last two decades working with clients in 80 countries, teaching them freedom at work.

In this short video from the 2019 Happy Workplaces Conference Traci explains that a freedom-centred mindset is essential for building a freedom-centred culture. "The root issue that stops world-class cultures from happening is fear. It’s the number one thing," she says.

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WorldBlu CEO Traci Fenton Underlines the Three Things Required to Create a Freedom-Centred Culture

What we teach is this model called freedom at work. What we have found is, in order to build a freedom-centred rather than fear-based culture, it takes these three big picture things. Number one: it starts with the freedom-centred mindset. And as we’ve worked with top leaders and top companies like Zappos and Groupon and Pandora and Hulu and WD-40 and all of these fabulous brands all over the world, what we’ve found is that their leaders have an entirely different mindset when they come to the table. They’re bringing a freedom-centred rather than fear-based mindset.

Now if you bring a mindset of fear, what do you want to do? You want to control, right? So when you have top leaders who are in this fear-based mindset, which most of us are and we don’t even realise it, they’re going to go and create these command and control management structures. But when we have a different mindset, like what Henry does at Happy, you bring an entirely different way that you design and operate your company to work.

The second part of the freedom at work model is leadership – freedom-centred vs. fear-based leadership. Because if you’re leading a company this way, you have to lead it in an entirely different way and there’s several attributes that we teach with freedom-centred leadership.

I’m not going to focus heavily on mindset and leadership today, but I will give you a tip – a tip on leadership that took us probably 15 years to figure out. The tip is in order to build these kinds of freedom-centred cultures that we’ve all been talking about today, the number one thing is that top leadership must have high self-worth. I’m not saying self-confidence, OK? A person can have self-confidence but not have self-worth. Self-worth is being secure with who you are.

When we work with companies, I will sit point blank with the CEO and say, on a one to ten where’s your self-worth? Because if they’re not telling me an eight or higher and aren’t willing to work on it, we’re not going to be able to transform their culture. Because if you’re not secure in who you are as the managing director or CEO, are you going to go create an environment where everyone else can shine? Are you? Hell no! If you’re not secure in who you are, you don’t want everyone else around to do great.

Has everyone ever worked for a low self-worth leader? Right, we all have. If you’ve got a crappy boss, I’m telling you they’re low self-worth. That’s just how it correlates, OK. So I just saved you a lot of money. Only hire high self-worth people. That’s what you want to go for.

And the last part is design. This is where the ten principles of democracy come in and we’re going to talk more about that in just a moment. But the problem is that most of the time we’re operating in fear at work. Now we don’t run around saying, oh I’ve got fear. Most of the time we say I have stress, I have anxiety, I’m sick of all this bureaucracy that we’ve got, command and control, analysis paralysis, perfectionism, bad communication, distrust. Anyone ever experienced any of these symptoms? Anyone ever worked in a fear-based environment? Yeah, yeah, exactly.

So this is the problem and at WorldBlu we’re really committed to solving the root problem, because a lot of times when we’re trying to build great cultures we’re just focusing on the leaves of the tree and not getting at the root issue. The root issue that stops world-class cultures from happening is fear. It’s the number one thing.


WorldBlu’s freedom at work model directly opposes fear-based work cultures. There are three crucial components to the freedom-centred approach. The first is a freedom-centred mindset. The second is freedom-centred leadership. Leaders with a fear-based mindset create command and control management structures.

To build freedom-centred cultures, Traci says top leadership must have high self-worth. “Self-worth is being secure with who you are,” she says.

The final component is organisational design, which was the focus of Traci’s talk at the 2019 Happy Workplaces conference. Command and control pyramid structures have gone out of fashion, but companies haven’t yet fully embraced democratic design. The reason it’s so important to do so, says Traci, is because “75% of what drives your culture are your systems and processes.”

Resources and related content

  • 12 Ways in Which Toyota Create a Great Workplace — Henry Stewart visited Toyota and learned about 'kaizen'. Each member of staff is expected to come up with at least two kaizen, or improvements, each month. They are allocated 15 minutes a day to identify and test these.
  • Leading in Agile Environments — Happy has partnered with Adventures in Agile to offer this two-day transformational workshop to develop leaders driven by purpose, creativity, curiosity, and empathy.

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About Traci Fenton

Traci Fenton is the Founder and CEO of WorldBlu, as well as a globally recognised researcher, speaker, author and transformational coach who has worked with thousands of top leaders of start-up, growth and large companies around the world.

WorldBlu teaches top CEOs and their teams worldwide how to lead with freedom rather than fear with their proven leadership model, Freedom at Work.

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