Everyone’s doing it.
It’s enlightened. It feels noble. It looks wise. If you’re a black-belt at this, you’re working to empower not just your team but your peers and your boss as well… hey look, I’m empowering my whole freaking value chain!!
Something’s not working. There’s some mischief at play. It feels like hard work and we’re still overloaded. We know our heart is in the right place and our intention is good, so where is this villainy hiding?
Let me ask you this, if your role is to empower them, what does that mean about how much power they have?
A Landmark Forum Leader once told me, “The context is always decisive.” In this case what I think is implicit in the idea of us empowering others is: they don’t have much power, we have plenty, and we can grant it
David Marquet calls this the Leader-Follower model. One leader. Many followers. Nothing wrong with that if you only need the commitment of one brain per team. But trying to empower them in this model is like pouring love into a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
Luckily, people are stubbornly hard to disempower. They have a huge amount of passion and intelligence. Start relating to people as leaders and they’ll usually surprise you in a good way. Share your intent and learn theirs. Ask for their recommendation instead of giving the answer. Yes, they’ll be unfamiliar and therefore uncomfortable with that at the start, just like you were, but you turned out okay and so will they.
Watch David Marquet’s 10 minute YouTube video, “Greatness“. It will blow your heart open. Then read his book, ‘Turn the Ship Around’ (ISBN-10: 1591846404). It will show you the detailed steps he took. Share the video and book with your team. Practice it. Level up.
The world wants more leaders. You can create them. It’s not a paradox.