Category Archives: Empowerment

My Top Posts for July

Here are the five most popular posts from my blog for the month of July.

6 Common Errors in Strategic Planning  In this post I attempt to uncover regular mistakes I see leaders and teams make in the strategic planing process-and offer some tips to correct.

Delegation vs Empowerment  This remains my most popular post month in and month out.  This is a critical leadership issue for the effective function of organizations and for the multiplication of leaders.

The Leader and Planning  This post was the first of a five part series on planning.    Here, I revealed the two primary purposes of team planning, stewardship and celebration, to lay a foundation for the planing environment.

3 Types of Leadership Decisions  Decisions are at the heart of effective leadership.  In this post I discuss the merits of directive, consultive and delegative decisions.

The Nature of Leadership Decisions  This post originally preceded the 3 Types of Leadership Decisions post.  In this post I lay out three diagnostic questions I believe every leader should answer before making a critical decision.

There are the five most popular for July.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and interact.  I hope you find these posts beneficial for the first time-or again.  Lead well!

3 Types of Leadership Decisions

This is the 2nd post on the topic of leadership decisions.  In the first one I discussed the nature of leadership decisions and offered some diagnostic questions to help you in thinking through every leadership decision you make.  In this post we will look at three types of leadership decisions.  Sometimes leaders look at decision making like a game of rock, paper, scissors.  We use the same approach in every situation and we leave it up to chance.  But there is a way to think through the type of decision that should be made for the best possible result.

1. The Directive Decision  This type of decision is where the leader alone makes the decision and announces it to those he or she leads.  This is an autocratic approach that should be used very sparingly, but does have it’s place.  This type of decision is probably most useful in times of crisis.  This is when there is chaos and people are looking to a single person or body to make a command decision.  Someone needs to take charge and provide clear direction to meet the need.

2. The Consultive Decision  This is where a leader presents a tentative decision and invites input that will affect the final outcome and execution.  This may be the most common scenario for leaders in the decision making process.  Leaders should rightly see things from a unique perspective that is more encompassing of the whole.  They should have some unique insight that can put forth an initial idea that may need refinement and specificity to actually work.  Gathering pros and cons and thinking through the consequences as a team can help to insure a better outcome.  These types of decisions build ownership and trust.  They also tap into the collective brain power and creativity of a team.

3. The Delegative Decision  This is where the leader provides freedom for making the decision within a prescribed responsibility.  This can often take place at the execution phase of leading.  This is where you have developed a strong sense of trust with those you are leading and you are able to empower them to make decisions for themselves in how things get done.  You may have collectively determined what needs to be done over time-but you provide freedom in how those goals and plans are accomplished.  This is a great leadership development tool and will help to multiply the leaders necessary for fulfilling the mission.  This requires a servant leader who can give away power and control and trust others toward the fulfillment of the mission.

When you are thinking through what the decisions that you need to make as a leader-ask yourself what type of decision is this?  What would work best for this problem or opportunity?  Is this a directive decision, a consultive decision, or a delegate decision?  The desired outcome will help determine the approach.  Lead well!

The Leader & Planning: Preparing Your Team

Many leaders do not prepare their teams for an upcoming planning session, except to let them know where and when.  The first sound uttered by a team member when they get the planning meeting email is a groan.  But wise leaders will save themselves a lot of emotional energy and will get the best out of their team planning times if they will prepare those involved before the meeting actually begins.

Three Reasons to Prepare Your Team for Planning

1. You will increase their ownership in the outcome.  If you are leading something of significance then you absolutely need your team’s best creativity and energy.  This flows from being vested in the process.  Creating ownership begins before the actual planning time begins.  Preparing your team by soliciting some of their thoughts ahead of time will increase their ownership.

2. You will increase their contribution to the process.  A good plan is hard to come by.  It takes time and hard work with every thoughtful mind contributing.  Thoughtful contribution will flow from a prepared mind.  This will definitely help the thinking processors in the group-who can often remain silent during brainstorming times.  Thinking processors, when they have had the chance to preheat, will benefit and contribute better and verbal processors will not dominate the time.

3. You will increase their commitment towards personal and corporate execution.  Apart from good execution any plan is worthless.  Execution requires that every team member executes at a personal level so that the team as a whole can execute well on a corporate level.  The better prepared a team is for this important activity the more they will understand what is required of them and be motivated to follow through.

Three Ways to Prepare Your Team for Planning

1. Engage Them in the Vision  As the team leader you must know the overall direction of the effort.  You must be engaged at a heart level to lead well.  But there is no guarantee that your team will naturally do the same.  Have them ponder and write down some thoughts to a few questions.  Ask them how they might contribute to the overall vision uniquely out of their gifts and abilities.  Ask them what they think the future might look like if the team vision is accomplished and lived out fully.  Ask them to transform the team vision into a war setting and a favorite vacation setting-and then describe it to the rest of the team.  Don’t waste time working on a well crafted vision statement that no one actually owns.  Simply let the team’s vision grow at a heart level as each member hears the other’s vision uniquely expressed through their eyes.  Start the process before your actual planning time by having your team do these exercises (or others) before they walk in the room.

2. Indulge Them in the Current Reality  Ask them for their perspective on the current reality of the organizational situation-and to prepare a one paragraph report before the planning time.  Ask them to come into the time with some thoughts written down about what is fixed and what is broken.  Ask them to come in with ideas about current hopes and frustrations.  Ask them to review the organizational metrics and to prepare a brief analysis of where the organization is today.  Ask them to be prepared to share what they believe to be the current impact of the organization on it’s intended audience-for good or bad.

3.  Involve Them in Practical Solutions  The team needs to come up with the plan–together.  But that does not mean that you cannot have them think ahead about potential solutions.  Ask each team member to consider what they think is either the biggest problem or greatest opportunity the organization faces–and to be ready to share three recommendations towards a solution.  If team members are already engaged in potential solutions it will almost certainly guarantee a robust conversation when it comes time to corporately solve the problem.  And that is where some of the best creativity and ownership will arise.

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Why should a leader prepare the team ahead of time for planning?  What are some best practices you have observed in doing so?

My Top Posts for May

Here are the top five most popular posts from my blog in May:

Young Leaders-Be Easy To Lead  I love leading and learning from Millennial leaders.  And like any leader their is always room to grow.  Here are a few principles on what that might look like for this valuable generation.

Delegation vs Empowerment  I distinguish between these two concepts and argue the need for greater empowerment to raise up more leaders.

Finishing Well  In this post I share three critical principles for finishing well as a spiritual leader.

The Foundation of Servant Leadership   This post highlights a foundational element for all spiritual leaders from John 13.

5 for Leadership on May 25th  The “5 for Leadership” series has proven to be a popular weekly addition.  This particular one really got the hits-check out these five leadership posts.

Lead well!

5 for Leadership

Here are a new 5 for the 2nd week in May.  I have included a couple of new people and some favorites.  I hope you benefit from these posts.

New Study IDs Best Companies for Leadership. Innovation    This is a fascinating article highlighting the 20 best companies for leadership development.  It is done initially in an interview format-but does a great job of capturing some key principles practiced by the best companies in the world.

Taking Initiative  This is from Ron Edmondson’s blog, who just recently announced that he will be moving to a new church in Lexington, Kentucky.  Ron always has great leadership insights.  This particular post is a guest post by Joey Berrios.  He examines the battle with fear and doubt that all leaders can face-and argues for initiative.

How Do You Answer These Leadership Questions?  This is a very brief post by Eric Jacobson.  He actually pulls seven questions from Charlene Li’s book Open Leadership.  But these seven questions are quite good at helping you evaluate your current leadership trajectory.

What You Must Surrender To Lead Best  This is from Kevin Eikenberry and his Leadership & Learning blog.  I have been reading Kevin for some time now-but this is the 1st time I have featured him in 5 for Leadership.  This is a good post on what you must give up in order to gain what you really want.

Jesus Is What The Old Testament Promised Him To Be  I end with a post that, in one sense, has nothing to do with the topic of leadership.  But in another sense is about the greatest leader who ever lived.  This is from Kevin DeYoung-but is actually a reference to a sermon that his associate pastor, Ben Falconer, preached earlier in the month.  This is a great list of all that Jesus is from the Old Testament.  Be sure and take a look-and be encouraged.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

Delegation vs Empowerment

To delegate means to choose or elect a person to act as a representative for another.  To empower someone means to give power or authority to someone else.  Do you hear the difference?  To delegate something to someone is to only give them enough leash to act on your behalf-as you would for yourself.  To empower another means you give them enough power and authority to act on their own behalf.

This is not good versus bad.  There is a proper time for delegation.  I can think of two: when someone is truly new to the ways of leadership and in times of crisis. When someone is cutting their teeth on leadership then you want to teach them how to handle responsibility.  It is the principle of seeing if they will be faithful in little so that they might grow in to being faithful with much.  In times of crisis there needs to be an authoritative decision maker and those who are willing to simply carry out those decisions to meet the critical need of the moment.  But these two scenarios leave a whole lot of opportunity for empowerment.

In my mind there are three critical aspects to empowerment.  To truly empower someone you must grant them authority, you must give them proper resources, and you must hold them accountable to organizational values and principles. They have to have enough authority to make some significant and important decisions-you have to give power away.  They have to have resources that are truly theirs to steward-people, money and tools.  Yet it is not a free for all-there should be an accountable aspect that helps them stay within the playing field of organizational boundaries.  You tell them the “what” but the “how” is left up to them.  They have to have enough of all three things to truly have the freedom to fail on their own efforts-and learn.

While there is a proper time for both things I am pushing the action point towards empowerment.  Here are some reasons why:

Delegation largely raises up followers-empowerment raises up leaders.

Delegation is less work for you in the short run-empowerment is more work for you in the short run.

Delegation is more work for you in the long run-empowerment is less work for you in the long run.

Delegation keeps you in the center of leadership activity-empowerment places someone else at the center of leadership activity.

Delegation ensures that you are your own leadership legacy-for good or for bad. Empowerment ensures that more leaders are your leadership legacy-which is almost always good.

Consider today some people around you that you can truly empower-not for your kingdom-but for His.

Three Marks of Leadership Maturity

(I originally posted this a year ago-and found myself musing once again over some of these observations-so here is another look at this post.)

I am sitting in Houston, Texas as I write. My family and I have been in the U.S. for the past five weeks seeing friends and family-but we head back to Florence on Sunday. Part of my time here has been focused on preparation for a training time in Italy for new team leaders. One of my passions is helping leaders lead well. So I have had a lot of fun praying through and thinking through this training time.

One aspect of leadership I have been pondering is how Christ-centered leadership matures. As I have looked back over my own leadership life it is clear that there have been seasons marked by immature leadership–leadership that was more focused on self than on Christ and others.

What does mature leadership look like? How is it experienced? What are it’s marks? There are three aspects that stand out to me that mark a corner being turned from immature to mature leadership:

1. Being able to share power
Leadership is about power and influence-but young leaders quickly become confused about the center of power and its purposes. There are really only two alternatives–power centers around the leader or the leader learns to give power away. Young leaders often want to control and be served. These are marks of the leader being at the center of power. But servant leadership is about making others the focus–therefore empowering others for success. Power sharing also reveals itself when you have shared leadership. In our organization we usually employ two team leaders for every team-a man and a woman. A leader’s ability to come to the table as equals and truly honor the other leader demonstrates maturity. Immaturity requires the other leader to be subservient to them.

2. Leading towards your team’s needs-not simply your own
This is similar to 1. except it goes beyond where power is located and begins to steward that power toward someone else. An immature leader can be overly concerned with their own needs or their own organization. A mature leader begins to look at the true make up those entrusted to them and they become students of their strengths, gifts and abilities. They begin to provide what each member needs to see them succeed. They provide structure, resources, counsel, developmental opportunities-all in the name of making them better.

3. Being able to appropriately lead up
Leading up is about response to authority. Immature leaders complain about the leaders over them rather than respectfully engaging them. Immature leaders diminish their leaders to others rather than communicating respectfully about them. Mature leaders are not “salute and obey” leaders-but they are also not rebellious. They know how to rightfully and respectfully dialogue with those in authority over them–and trust God fully who positioned those leaders in the first place.

Let’s all move towards greater leadership maturity!