“If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Chances are, as a leader, you have either said this or thought this very loudly. You assigned a task to someone, and they missed the deadline. Perhaps they got it done on time, but the quality was mediocre and you ended up fixing the mistakes. It doesn’t take long before you decide the best way to get the results you want are to do it yourself and to micromanage others as they do their jobs.
Unfortunately in the organizational world of today, where team work and collaboration are valued, that approach usually doesn’t work well. Some leaders are able to successfully lead this way. However, by and large, empowering leaders enjoy greater success.
Empowering leaders relate to followers as fellow members in the cause, and focus on facilitating the accomplishments of goals. They possess three traits that empower others through shared leadership.
1. Empowering leaders are self-aware and secure. They understand how God has wired them, possessing a good picture of their personality, communication preferences, leadership strengths, and spiritual gifts. As a result, they are comfortable with who they are, but not satisfied to remain there. Personal and spiritual growth are important to them. Empowering leaders also believe God has given them their positions, and He will provide the necessary wisdom and strength. Therefore, they do not hold tightly to power, knowing it is a gift of influence that must be faithfully stewarded. They are not driven by insecurity or the need for the spotlight. They focus on what they do well, and share responsibilities with others in their areas of strengths. The empowering leader is “one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it” (Theodore Roosevelt).
2. Empowering leaders trust their followers. They move away from control and allow others to do what they do with excellence. They promote a culture of respect and acceptance, encouraging input from everyone. Cooperation and team ownership are emphasized in order to accomplish work. Empowering leaders believe that, when given the proper tools and resources, followers will do their best to succeed for the good of the team. In Luke Chapter 10, Jesus Christ demonstrated trust in seventy-two disciples when He “sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit” (vs. 1, NLT). This was a massive regional effort to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Jesus provided His followers with important instructions and then released them. Even though these disciples were not as experienced and equipped as Jesus Himself, He entrusted the work to them and shared some of His authority. “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (Luke 10:18)
3. Empowering leaders know their followers. They spend time understanding their followers’ unique personalities and strengths. By studying their followers, empowering leaders discover how to motivate them. They resist using generic motivational approaches. Rather effective motivation is applied personally and consistently. Empowering leaders are able to match the right abilities and talents with the appropriate tasks. They provide the necessary instructions, resources, and communication for follower success. They equip followers in order to gain competence in their positions, providing opportunities for growth and satisfaction.
Look at the three traits listed above. On a 1 to 10 scale (1 being lowest, 10 being highest), rate yourself on each trait. Which one do you need to develop the most? What will you do to develop it?