What could you achieve by being an Empowering Leader?

The following six practices provide a useful template for becoming an empowering leader.

Practice #1: Empowering Leaders Have a Driving Passion for realizing Their Vision.

Great leaders have a clear picture of what they want to accomplish and a passion for making that vision a reality. This means:

  • They know clearly what they want, and work passionately to make that happen.
  • They do not meander through the day in a state of half-consciousness.
  • They do not allow events and circumstances to determine what will happen to them.
  • They are concerned with outcomes.
  • They use their vision to rise above adversity, setbacks, and even failure.

Practice #2: The Empowering Leader Is Egoless

In his book Good To Great, author Jim Collins performed an in-depth study of companies that were far more successful than their similar counterparts. He found that one of the distinguishing features of these companies was the personal character of their leaders, particularly their humility.

Practice #3: An Empowering Leader Builds and Maintains Relationships of Trust

Empowering leaders develop and maintain a unique relationship with their followers: a relationship based on trust. You can have an incredible vision within the organization, but if trust is low or absent, you fight an uphill battle to implement that vision, since it takes the collective efforts of many people to realize anything worthwhile. Trust can be defined as confidence in your relationship with others, particularly in their competence, integrity, and fairness.  In other words, when we trust someone:

  • We believe that this person is capable of achieving business results.
  • We believe that we can count on the individual to do what he or she says.
  • We believe that this person cares about our own interests as well as his or her own.

When trust is low, relationships are characterized by alienation, competition, and conflict rather than collaboration and goodwill.

Practice # 4: Empowering Leaders Unleash the Motivations and Commitments of Those They Lead

The work of a high-performance leader is to unleash the creative potential of other people, by creating conditions that enable them to contribute meaningfully to their jobs and the company. In traditional (vs. High Performance) organizations, managers issue orders and directives that people carry out without much input or thought.

This practice can stifle personal initiative and creativity; people wait to be told what to do and learn to do things by the book. In a high-performance organization, the leader sets up conditions that reward people for using their minds to improve the work they are doing.

Practice # 5:  An Empowering Leader Is a Social and Organizational Architect

What does the word “architect” mean to you? What do you think of when you hear that leaders are architects?

The greatest leaders understand that their purpose is more than creating a personal legacy. It is to create an organization that outlasts them and continues to add value for years to come. In their bestselling book Built To Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras report on the qualities of premier companies.  These companies were not built solely on a great idea or a charismatic leader, both of which come and go with time.  Instead, the founders of such legendary companies as Hewlett Packard, Merck, 3-M, GE, and P&G all took an architectural approach to building their organizations.

Our founding fathers took a similar approach. Their leadership positions were less important to them than the architecture of the institution they built, the structure and processes that enable our society to continue to thrive today. It is the organization, not just the idea that commands the attention and respect of the greatest leaders.

Practice #6: An Empowering Leader Acts from Positive Beliefs about People and Situations

For true leaders, the glass is not half full – it’s brimming. They believe all of the exemplary leaders we have studied that they can change the world or, at the very least, make a dent in the universe. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders, 1985

Unfortunately, many of our beliefs are negative rather than positive.  We think the closet is full of boogie men instead of guardian angels.  For example, if you are called into your manager’s office, you may feel anxious and wonder if you are in trouble. Some examples of strengthening vs. weakening beliefs might be:

“Everything happens for a purpose” vs. “Bad things always happen to me.”
“People are basically good” vs. “You can’t trust anyone.”
“There is no such thing as failure” vs. “I just can’t win.”
“We can do it” vs. “We’ll never make it.”

Here are a few affirmations that can be repeated over and over again, to help you change habitual weakening beliefs:

  •     I am a positive and energetic leader who achieves outstanding results.
  •     I am a compassionate leader who brings out the best qualities in others.
  •     I am well balanced in my personal, family, and business life.
  •     I am an excellent communicator and believe in continually sharing my vision with everyone I come in contact with.

I offer High-Performance Leadership training, development, coaching, workshops, seminars, and keynotes on leadership topics.  For more information, please contact me at (818) 231-5238 or robert@blackdiamondleadership.com.