How do you grow a team or an organization? The short answer is to engage good people and empower them to reach their full potential. There is nothing tremendously profound about this statement, but the difficulty comes with the how. How do you go about empowering others and leading people well? In John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he says, “To lead others well, we must help them reach their full potential. That means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power, and helping them to succeed.” This takes some courage and an unwavering belief in people.
Abraham Lincoln set one of the finest examples of this type of leadership, as he led the country through the bloodiest war in our history. Many of the country’s best generals chose to serve the Confederacy when the Southern States seceded, however, Lincoln never lost his faith in the leaders who remained with the North. He gave his leaders the power and freedom to make decisions and lead their troops. And while this strategy didn’t always work, and key battles were certainly lost, he continued to support his leaders and let them know that he had faith in them to win the War. Lincoln himself took responsibility for the failures and gave his generals credit for the successes and key victories.
For a leader in today’s business world, there is a lot that can be learned from the example Lincoln set. Some people find success and want to keep it to themselves because of the fear that sharing their success with others will make them dispensable. Many people choose not to empower others because of job security. The truth is, the only way to make yourself indispensable is to be dispensable, which isn’t always comfortable for people.
Leaders must embrace change to grow, and empowerment builds the capacity for growth within an organization. The most efficient way to grow is the ability for leaders to step out of their comfort zone and accept change. When you empower people in your organization to become leaders, the growth potential is much greater than simply adding followers.
Successful leaders will exude confidence without losing their humility. You have to believe in your own self-worth before you can help others believe in theirs. How can you lift someone else up if you can’t lift yourself up? Build up your teammates. Give them resources and responsibility. Turn them loose and empower them to lead.
As teams and businesses, we want to be successful. By lifting others up through empowerment, you only lift yourself higher! Alone you may be able to go fast, but together you will go much further. True power comes from the ability to bring good people together and empower them to accomplish a worthy goal.