Because leadership and power are usually intertwined, people have an inclination to view leadership as a position of privilege. When someone becomes a leader, they find themselves assuming some form of influence or power over others. As such, the temptation to view those who are led as menial or expendable becomes amplified. This distancing is one of the most significant impediments to strong leadership there is. It is the root cause of insecurities which generate destructive habits such as
micromanagement, neglect, and favoritism to name a few. Try as one may, it’s impossible to lead successfully under this mindset without instigating conflict amongst employees. To become effective leaders, it is imperative to develop an instinct to facilitate growth in others – specifically in those who are being led.
This is the key to bringing the best out of employees. All leaders have a responsibility to respect, and empower, those whom they lead. They have a responsibility to share knowledge in a way that makes others capable and establishes a legacy of aptitude. The belief that empowering others threatens survival by creating competition for oneself is a defensive misconception. Far from causing threat, empowering others actually furthers survival by reinforcing available skills and potential. If every pioneer refused to share their knowledge for fear of competition, the human race would never have evolved. To illustrate, Thomas Edison would never have invented the incandescent lightbulb without Alessandro Volta’s electricity. Garrett Morgan would never have invented the three-position traffic signal without Thomas Edison’s lightbulbs. And exactly how lost would we all be on the road if Garret Morgan’s traffic system had never been shared with the world?
Let go of the fear and baggage that prevents you from empowering others because sharing knowledge is one of humanity’s cardinal reasons for being. Instead of limiting employees to their resumes or job descriptions, view them each as sources of potential beyond their existing skills. Every human ability can be enhanced through education and practice. Which in turn means that every person is capable of excellence if given proper guidance and attention. Every leader should be aware of this principle as they train and manage employees. Promoting growth in itself doesn’t have to be some elaborate scheme either. All it takes is:
- Encouraging others to solve problems without intervention.
- Teaching others to analyze problems critically and clinically.
- Teaching others to be collaborative and open to empowering others in kind.
These three qualities naturally compel employees to search within themselves and push the limits of their intellect. They also influence people into being receptive to new knowledge while sharing what they already know with others; creating a cascading effect of reciprocated empowerment.
Learn to take enjoyment in helping people develop and grow. Embrace a sense of curiosity about pushing people’s limits to determine what they are capable of. Rather than viewing mistakes as disasters, view them as an opportunity to learn and teach. Empowering others doesn’t just help other people grow, it helps oneself grow because every chance we take to uplift others helps us mature as compassionate beings.