Have you ever had someone who believed in you, trained you and then empowered you to take on key responsibilities? If so, how did that make you feel? What did you learn? How did it help you grow?
John Maxwell wisely states that “the true measure of leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” One key way to influence people is to invest in them and empower them to take on responsibility. The goal of leadership should be to develop other leaders, not gain followers. If you are simply gaining followers who are unable to learn from you and do what you do, then you are shortchanging them, the organization and yourself. One of the key lessons I learned as a young leader is to “work yourself out of a job.” If you develop people who can do what you do, you will be free to work on new and more important tasks or initiatives. And you will strengthen your team and organization.
So, how do you empower others? Follow the following four-stage process:
Stage 1 – I do, you watch
In this stage, you are simply showing your developing leader(s) what you do. Observation is critical for them to get a vision of what they will do. This stage doesn’t need to last long. Simply invite them to shadow you for a reasonable time frame. This could be a few days or a few weeks depending on your circumstances, but your goal is to move them to stage 2 as quickly as you believe they’re ready.
Stage 2 – I do, you help
In this stage, you are now having them help you. You start to apprentice them in a hands-on manner. Give them tasks to do as you are doing your work. Give them more and more pieces of projects as appropriate and as they are ready.
Stage 3 – You do, I help
In this stage, loosen the reigns of what you are controlling. Instead, let them take the lead on what they’ve been doing with you in stage 2. You then will act as their back-up support. Step in only if their failure will be detrimental to the project or organization. Ask them questions along the way to evaluate how well they are absorbing your training and to help them think through changes they need to make.
Stage 4 – You do, I watch
In this stage, you send them off on their own and watch from a distance. Let them know you’re available, but that you won’t be “holding their hand” anymore. You shift from a hands-on mentor to a trusted advisor. At this point you should check in on them occasionally, but create intentional distance so they will feel the weight of their responsibility and understand that it is now theirs to “own.”
If you work through this sequence with those you are leading, you will begin to see leaders multiply and you will feel great joy and relief as you see them succeeding and taking on responsibilities that frees you up to work on other important matters. This is a repeatable process that all leaders should be working through with their followers.
Empower people and watch your influence grow!
Be Intentionally Great today!