I LOVE a book that gives me an insight into the minds and methods of business gurus.

I’ve lost count of how many I’ve read – but few have captivated me quite as much as the recently published No Rules Rules.

It gives the inside scoop on the culture of Netflix from co-founder Reed Hastings. When you consider the success of this multi-billion-dollar media empire grown from a small business start-up, you know you’re sure to find pearls of wisdom.

Combine that with insights from his co-author Erin Meyer, who devised The Culture Map (essentially a how-to guide for transcending cultural barriers) and this book was never going to disappoint.

The first thing that grabbed me was the open discussion about failures when the company started out. So many business leaders make their path to success sound like a fairytale, but I suspect some are either looking back with rose-tinted specs or they’re glossing over the truth.

The road to the top can be rocky but sometimes our biggest lessons can come from our mistakes. They’re not something to be ashamed of because they help us grow.

So I loved that Hastings gives a candid account of his early leadership failings. Ultimately, they were the making of him.

In Hastings’ case they encouraged him to look long and hard at company culture and find fresh ways to fuel innovation and engagement.

Among the first rules to get torn up in No Rules Rules is the vacation policy. Doing away with having a set holiday allowance. Sounds risky, doesn’t it? You’d think people would take advantage. On the contrary, if you have a high-performing culture and people who love their job, they won’t abuse the policy. They’ll feel trusted and valued and you’ll gain their respect.

In fact, you’ll probably find your biggest challenge is actually getting them to take the holidays.

It’s at that point you need to lead by example and make a point of taking your own holidays to reinforce the fact it’s not only acceptable but encouraged.

Take a similar stance with expenses policies. Instead of having a raft of regulations, ask staff to use their own judgement and spend the money as though it’s their own. It’s a guideline that grants autonomy while still sending the message that unnecessary spending is a no-no.

Finally, one of the most important things the book advocates is a culture of candour. It encourages people to be open and honest to their colleagues and bosses but with certain guidelines, and urges leaders to be open to this.

Hastings tells an anecdote about how he cut someone off when they gave their opinion in a meeting. A colleague emailed him afterwards to remind him his behaviour wasn’t constructive, was contrary to the values of the organisation and was likely to discourage people from speaking out. He reflected, realised this was true, and thanked that courageous employee for the valuable feedback.

Having a working culture that gives more autonomy has never been so important in the current climate. Working from home is here to stay for many companies, so finding ways to build trust instead of constraining people with arbitrary rules is key.

But don’t throw the rulebook out the window completely.

Freedom to operate still needs to sit within a framework that puts the business needs first.

The key is to make sure your workforce understands the end goal, so there is a culture of self-regulation and working together to achieve that goal.

And as Hastings and Meyer suggest, that’s how you empower your people and enable them to grow as individuals whilst building a high performing and productive business.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair with Vistage International, a global leadership development network for CEOs