To empower others is a good thing as long as you don’t feel threatened by that empowerment. And no place is that more true than in the role of being a leader. The word “empower” is threatening to many leaders because they often feel empowering those they lead could lead to their own position being threatened.
Successful leaders have learned that, without the empowerment of those they lead to both get the job done and to develop and grow, they will not succeed as leaders. If empowerment is so vital to success, why do so many leaders resist it?
The reason so few leaders are intentional about empowering their followers is because they do not understand what it means to empower. Bob McDonald made the following observation regarding this subject.
“Most corporate managers simply do not understand what it means to empower employees. Too often, they mistakenly equate giving power to employees with a reduction in their own power. The reality is that empowering others actually enhances the power of the leader. But for those managers who have invested their whole career in an effort to achieve a position of power and are married to this misconception that empowering employees is losing power, it’s understandable why the idea of giving away any of their hard-earned power would be an anathema to them.”
As mentioned above, empowering does not decrease but rather increases the leader’s power. This obvious fear of losing power has more to do with the leader’s own insecurities than anything else. Often times the leader thinks if they empower younger or the seemingly smarter followers, they will be shown up as less capable and eventually get demoted or, worse yet, fired.
What leaders need to know is that empowering their followers is about sharing power.
“You see, the empowering of employees does not mean giving your power away; it means retaining your power, but sharing it. The manager retains all the functional power of their position, but they share the value of having power with employees, so that they can, in fact, influence the actions of the organization and feel they can make a difference. It does not mean the leader has abdicated the power to make the decision, but it does mean that others feel empowered in the process of making the decision.” (Bob McDonald)
Another reason some leaders struggle with empowering their followers is the fear of change. Some leaders do not like change, although change is usually front and center in any successful organization. This is especially true of leaders who have been at same job for many years. They tend to resist change because it takes them out of their comfort zones. And often for effective change to take place followers need to be empowered.
Are you a leader who empowers those you lead? Or is your fear of changing or giving up too much power keeping you from empowering your followers?
Next week we will look at how successful leaders empower their followers.
If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.