In the last post on effective leadership, I mentioned that one of the best ways to follow through is to delegate and trust others to get the job done. I would like to elaborate upon this more through the lens of empowering others. Effective leaders recognize the importance of trusting others with parts of accomplishing the vision. Not only can the vision be attained with greater speed, but the richness of the vision will be enhanced.
So what does it mean to empower others? Tara Kachaturoff explains it well in her article Great Leaders Empower Others. “Empower means to put energy into something or someone. When we empower someone, we infuse him or her with our strength, support and acknowledgement to carry things forward.” I really like the idea of, as a leader, infusing someone with strength, support and acknowledgement. It communicates to the rest of the group that I am commissioning this person to carry out the vision and expect everyone to be supportive. It is an extension of the leader’s influence beyond what one person is capable of doing on his or her own. Andrew Carnegie, the 19th century steel industry tycoon and philanthropist, said this of empowering others: “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.”
It’s also important to realize that empowering others is investing in their future. By allowing others to be a part of accomplishing the vision, we are encouraging them to step into their own greatness by using their talents and gifts. One of the primary responsibilities of any effective leader is to advocate their people’s growth and development.
One of the common points of resistance to empowering others is a fear of being replaced or made to look less valuable. However, as Barbara Colorose perfectly puts it, “the beauty of empowering others is that your own power is not diminished in the process.” It actually increases power and influence because you extend your reach through those you choose to commission. Additionally, delegating responsibility to others frees the leader up to take on new opportunities they couldn’t have before. It is advantageous of all leaders to recognize that “leaders accomplish great things through other people.” (Tara Kachaturoff)
When I was the worship pastor at a church in South Carolina, I caught the vision early in my tenure to replace myself. I had no plans to leave the church, but I saw the benefit of empowering and mentoring other leaders for the benefit of the church, those leaders, and myself. I was able to focus on the larger vision without having to be caught up in the week to week demands. The church benefited from a variety of leadership voices, making the times of worship richer. And my leadership team was able to grow as I walked alongside them and provided them opportunities to lead. Little did I know that five years into my service I would leave that church for a job in another city. I’m thankful that I caught the vision of replacing myself because the church never skipped a beat. While people missed me personally, they were left in very capable hands.
Bill Gates said that “as we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” It instills loyalty and a feeling of being cared for within those that follow. Once a leader gains this level of trust and influence, the impact of what they can accomplish will be powerful and far reaching.