Everyone plays the role of a leader. You’re a leader if you are a softball coach, charity board member, or a volunteer coordinator. We are all called to lead in the territory God has given us. Leading people means you’re responsible for empowering them. Empowerment means giving authority or power to someone to do something.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that the pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles, and evangelists of the church must equip the people of God for works of service (Eph 4:11). This means you and me. We are responsible to care for, help develop, and equip those we lead with the tools they need so that they will be empowered to go and do more good works of faith in Christ.
“Empowerment is the act of giving your power to another so he or she can serve effectively.”
Jesus empowered and encouraged Peter to feed and care for His sheep. Jesus also empowered the New Testament leaders in their natural abilities and spiritually. In turn, these leaders facilitated empowerment to those who were under them.
As women, we have many opportunities and the responsibility to empower other women. If you’re a woman leading other women, know that your power, influence, and sustainability not only come directly from God but from those who you empower. Empowerment doesn’t diminish our position or vision, it builds and multiples it.
A good leader knows how to delegate tasks, and delegation is necessary to accomplish a vision. But if we delegate more than empower those we lead, we do them no good.
“Delegation creates followers. Empowerment creates leaders.” Betsy Marvin
Empowerment takes time. Empowerment requires patience as we help develop and advance people’s skills. Empowerment means turning your stakeholders into shareholders by allowing them to take ownership and invest in the vision.
Here is a short list of ways you can help empower those you lead. This list is based on my many years of experience leading all kinds of teams and managing people.
You help empower people when you:
- Listen: Ask questions, challenge their thinking. Be engaged and listen without interrupting. Allow them to talk and resist the temptation to dominate the conversation. The more we talk, the less people hear.
- Trust: Let them execute tasks and projects in their own way. Give them freedom within generous boundaries. Let them take ownership. Don’t get involved and take the reins. Taking control for fear of losing control of the results equals micro-managing, which is the fastest way to create poor morale, weakened productivity, and a toxic culture.
- Clearly Define Roles: This limits confusion and chaos. Clear definition helps people know what lane to drive in and what responsibilities they can’t dodge.
- Maintain an Open Door Policy: People will know that their opinion matters and is valued when you leave room to talk. It also allows them to play an active role in the vision.
- Inspire creative thinking: Allow people to find creative solutions and ideas. Not every idea we have is a good idea. That’s why two (or more) heads are better than one. When everyone is allowed to throw spitball ideas on the table, we become collaborators, and collaboration is what makes a successful team. A true team decides how to build, develop, define ideas. Resist the idea that we as leaders have all the answers. Let someone else lead, talk, and come up with ideas.
- Communicate: Give people all the information they need to succeed before they begin a task. Without the given details of a project, failure is probable.
- Make them visible: We empower people when we recognize them publicly. Public acknowledgment communicates they are valuable shareholders of the project or vision.
- Show appreciation: When we show appreciation to others, we boost morale and motivation. Be specific about what you appreciate- how well they handled a delicate situation, how they successfully organized an event, or that their amazing volunteer recruiting skills helped make the event go smoothly.
- Allow them mistakes: … because we all make them and then forgive. This is called safe failure. Failing is a chance to learn.
- Pray: We must pray for those we lead. Praying is part of caring for people. Pray for wisdom to make wise choices. Pray that God will help us successfully empower those we lead, so they can go forth and duplicate the standard of leadership we model, and the empowerment we pass on to them.
Who can you empower today?