"Show people a positive path that enables them to make progress on their own terms. Give them options and alternatives that empower them." — Mark Goulston
It’s been said that the greatest responsibility of a leader is to empower others—to make others stronger and more confident. The dictionary goes as far as to suggest that the true nature of the word empower is to give to another the authority or power to do something, especially in regards to controlling one’s own life and claiming their rights.
Now that’s a powerful word! And I think what I like most about this word is that it’s an action word. A verb in the literal sense because it’s a call to action. If we take this word seriously we can’t morally sit on it, because it’s about helping others reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Perhaps they lost their power from past hurt, discouraging naysayers, or fear of failure; however they lost control over their lives, the word empower calls us to help them reclaim that control.
If our aim is to be a leader of positive influence in this world (and I genuinely believe that this should be a least part of everyone’s life goals) then we must seek opportunities every day to empower others. This will involve doing what’s right in ever situation, even when doing what’s more convenient would be more alluring. Perhaps the best place to start is with this simple meditation, often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
Think of someone you know who has lost their sense of authority. What can you do today to empower this person? Make a plan to empower them. If you do you’ll find that the positive results don’t stop with them, and they even go beyond the natural joy of helping someone else. When you see the positive influence that they in turn become for others the empowerment multiplies!
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.