Lao Tzu once said, “To lead people, walk beside them ... When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”
To me, leadership is about empowering others. Empowering others doesn't mean using our influence to persuade others to follow our views and goals. It means inspiring others to choose the best for them, to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions. I believe that the greatest legacy a leader can create is an army of empowered confident doers not a herd of followers.
In business, we might share an ultimate outcome with our employees, meaning a job that must be done, but it is very different to tell someone what needs to be done, than to tell someone how it needs to be done. Other than making sure the ethics code that we set for ourselves, our company and employees has been followed, do we measure success by the methods or by results? If we insist on measuring the methods and hovering over our employees while they are executing the task at hand, we project little faith in their capabilities and our own capability to choose the right team for the job. Furthermore, the issue at hand now is more about what and how they are performing the task rather than the results. If instead we specifically and clearly share with them the desired result and our confidence in their capability to achieve it, we’ve just empowered them. There’s a line I heard once that’s stuck in my head, “a good leader inspires people to have confidence in him and a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Every single day, we are given the opportunity to empower others. Through the way we treat our employees, our children, our friends, and others, we choose to empower them or undermine them. Nothing is more empowering than trust in another, recognizing their value, and giving genuine praise when the task at hand has been successfully executed.
By empowering our employees, we create a culture of unity and accountability within our companies.—We manifest a team that is working towards a common goal with each team member executing his or her task and bringing to our company individual innovative ideas and methodologies. We empower our employees by allowing them the freedom to think for themselves and think about the task at hand. They are doers, not followers. They might often surprise us and teach us better ways to achieve the same results or even greater results. Great leaders should choose their employees, based on their qualifications, their ability to think on their feet, and the innovative methodologies they can contribute to the company, not based on their ability to do things “the way we’ve done things in this company for years.”
An empowering leader always seeks to share the spotlight with others and her vision must also empower others in the process. Share the light and you will feel the love.
Monica Puig, Cofounder of www.socialpurposes.com