Empowering Leaders

by Joseph Mattera, Mattera Ministries International on May 9, 2016

Article provided by Joseph Mattera and our partners at iDisciple.

Knowing how to nurture people so they reach their maximum leadership potential is as much psychological as it is an art. There are ways leaders limit the creativity of others, and there are ways to get folks to reach new heights they haven’t even dreamed about. The following are ways leaders can empower others to fulfill their potential:

1. Empowering leaders allows others to make mistakes

Some leaders are more concerned with getting a job done correctly than about empowering people to learn how to do a job. When all leaders care about is getting a job done right they won’t truly delegate authority to others to perform a task. This is because they view their workers merely as an extension of their arms and legs but not their brain, because they don’t let their workers think for themselves. Often, those they give a task to perform are constantly corrected as the job is being done.

On the other hand, empowering leaders often allow those who are assigned tasks to make mistakes and then gracefully critique those workers after each finished task is done.

2. Empowering leaders don’t micromanage

Micromanaging should only be done if a leader is working with a person that is completely untrained or unskilled at a particular task. This kind of working arrangement should only be temporary because a person should not be assigned a task they don’t have the potential skill to perform and, once the transition to job proficiency is complete, the leader should allow the worker to perform tasks with only macro oversight.

Micromanaging breeds an atmosphere of distrust and tells the person given the task that the leader doesn’t really believe in them. Habitual micromanagers usually don’t have a clue when it comes to being an empowering leader.

3. Empowering leaders focus on the positive traits of others

We all stumble in many ways. All of us usually drop the ball on assignments at least 10% of the time depending on how much extra work we have. In addition to this, there is always going to be mistakes in a certain percentage of the tasks we perform. Also, one person will always do a job differently than the next person. Consequently, a leader will always have the opportunity to point out things that a person didn’t do correctly. Thus the leader should attempt to focus most on what the person given the task did right and the results of the work performed. Of course, the exception to this is if someone totally messes up a task or doesn’t follow the guidelines given to them.

When we focus on the positive contributions of others we impart confidence to them and motivate them to continue to perform at a high level.

4. Empowering leaders give constructive criticism, not destructive criticism

There should be regularly scheduled times after each major task is completed to review the work and assess whether objectives were met. This should be based on the criteria given before the task was attempted so there is an objective way to gauge whether or not the task was performed with excellence. Regular debriefing times like this allow the person given a task to understand whether or not they are growing in the job and where they stand in regards to their employment.

It is not fair to tell a person one year after they start a job that they are not performing well. By this time their job is already in jeopardy and they haven’t even been given a chance to improve because they had no feedback.

Those who desire to work with a spirit of excellence usually welcome consistent, constructive criticism. Of course, when a leader puts a person down, calls them names, belittles them, or speaks in a condescending manner to them, they are dispensing criticism that can destroy, not build up, those working under them.

5. Empowering leaders give expected guidelines, goals, and outcomes

Empowering leaders usually always give those working for them general guidelines for a job and the objectives of tasks along with the end result they are looking for. This enables the person given the task to “run downfield with the ball” creatively without constantly looking over their shoulder wondering if they are still on the playing field.

Disempowering leaders merely give a person a task but have amorphous guidelines, goals, and objectives so that no one but the leader really knows if the job is being done right or wrong. When leaders do this it is a sign that either they themselves don’t even have real objectives for a task, or that they are simply trying to keep exercising psychological control over their workers.

6. Empowering leaders connect people to their passion, gifts, and calling

Empowering leaders always attempt to match people with jobs according to their gifts, passion, and abilities. Disempowering people don’t take these things into consideration and often are guilty of attempting to force a square peg into a round hole. Empowering leaders take pride in being able to help people soar like eagles to the highest heights imaginable, while disempowering leaders care more about getting tasks accomplished than releasing human potential. Empowering leaders also are sensitive and lead each person differently according to their experience, personality, and temperament.

7. Empowering leaders focus on inspiring people as opposed to forcing people to perform

Empowering leaders cast vision so as to inspire their followers to perform great things, while disempowering leaders often get things done merely by giving orders and making demands on people. When you inspire people they perform at a much greater level because they are allowed to make their own decisions to serve and have a greater amount of buy-in, while those merely following orders will do just enough to please the leader and usually don’t tap much into their creative juices.

8. Empowering leaders engage in dialogue while disempowering leaders dictate their desires and ideas

Empowering leaders attempt to allow a flow of dialogue between themselves and their followers in work-related projects. These leaders understand the importance of receiving regular feedback from their subordinates so they will have a better understanding of how to go about accomplishing tasks. In contrast, leaders that disempower others don’t usually engage in dialogue but merely dictate what and how they want a project done.  Folks under this kind of leader eventually lose their motivation to think and just robotically follow orders because they know their opinions don’t really matter. Dictating leaders usually don’t multiply other leaders; they are merely retaining followers who have allowed their creativity to be capped.

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