12. The Law of Empowerment

The Law of Empowerment: Only Secure Leaders Give Power to Others

I know this isn’t necessarily related to the passage, but I think Henry Ford’s philosophy on mass producing his vehicles fits perfectly with what I’m aspiring to accomplish in financial services.

I will build a motorcar for the multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one- and enjoy with his family the blessings of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces. -p. 141

This is not the typical story you hear about Henry Ford. According to the reading, Henry Ford used to tear down his employees and his leaders, undermining their abilities, rejecting their ideas, and trying to maintain too much control. Thus, the initial momentum that they built was lost, and even more so when his son, who was next in line, died at age 49. However, Henry Ford’s grandson, Henry, took a different approach to leadership by hiring and recruiting some of the best in the industry to turn things around, despite the company having not been profitable in 15 years! So, he got the best people but instead of continually lifting them up, he would also undermine them and then get rid of them once they got too comfortable or he found someone better. Clearly this style of cutting the legs off the best leaders wasn’t necessarily the best approach either.

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. -Theodore Roosevelt

To lead others well, we must help them to reach their potential. That means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power, and helping them to succeed. p. 145

Maxwell then goes on to say that childhood games reinforce this winner-loser mindset: games like King of the Hill and Follow the Leader.

In cultures where you have to fight to make something of yourself, the assumption often is that you need to fight others to maintain your leadership. But reflects a scarcity mind-set. The truth is that if you give some of your power away to others, there is still plenty to go around. p. 146

To keep others down, you have to go down with them. And when you do that, you lose any power to lift others up. p. 146

When a leader can’t or won’t empower others, he creates barriers within the organization that followers cannot overcome. If the barriers remain long enough, then the people give up and stop trying, or they go away to another organization where they can maximize their potential. p. 146

I think it’s interesting that the first barrier to empowerment mentioned is the fear of loss. We are trained on that all the time! Fear of loss is one of the greatest motivators known to man. But in this case, it can be bad. If you are too worried about losing your job, why would you work to make other people better, who could eventually take your job? That’s the same thing we talk about at Primerica when referring to real estate. What’s the likelihood that a broker wants all of her best agents to leave the company and become brokers?

If the teams you lead always seem to succeed, people will figure out that you are leading them well. p. 147

The second barrier to empowerment is resistance to change.

By its very nature, empowerment brings constant change because it encourages people to grow and innovate. Change is the price of progress. That’s not always easy to live with. Most people don’t like change. That’s a fact. Yet one of the most important responsibilities of leaders is to continually improve their organizations. As a leader, you must train yourself to embrace change, to desire it, to make a way for it. Effective leaders are not only willing to change; they become change agents. p. 147

The #3 Barrier to Empowerment is Lack of Self-Worth.

Self-conscious people are rarely good leaders. They focus on themselves, worrying how they look, what others think, whether they are liked. They can’t give power to others because they feel that they have no power themselves. And you can’t give what you don’t have. p. 148

This is exhibited by Abraham Lincoln who filled his presidential cabinet with some of this greatest opposition that way he would have the strongest leaders and brightest minds helping him make decisions.

Reflection:

  1. I would say my sense of self-worth rates a solid 7/10. There is room for improvement but I’m cognizant of my leadership potential, resources, and abilities. I do believe I have value and I’m willing to take risks. I also acknowledge when I make mistakes.
  2. I do believe in people- to a fault. I have the ability to see people for what they can become.
  3. When it comes to me empowering folks, that comes in the form of developing my own field trainers. I have two business associates who are on the verge of exiting the training stage. I will focus on empowering them with the confidence and competence that it takes to be successful in business.
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About 5eriouslyernest

Aspiring Servant-Leader studying engineering principles, financial stewardship, business management, and psychology fundamentals in order to cultivate passionate leadership, disseminate positive energy, uplift the community and ultimately create a brighter future for generations to come.
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