When we are born our parents tell us what to do.
When we go to school our teachers tell us what to do.
When we get a job our bosses tell us what to do.
When we enter a position of responsibility we think we need to tell people what to do.
How's that working for you?
Probably not that great. When people get told what to do they react in a few different ways. Some jump in and do it. They are rare. Some resist and like a little child told to eat their vegetables they say “NO” in response to being told (Reminds one of Romans 7:8 as a reaction to the Law). Some will do it reluctantly but resent the being told part. Some do it happily knowing that if it fails or goes south they can blame you and say, “I was just doing what I was told.” Some do it happily but with a sense of ignorance and then the next time they come running to you because you have created a dependence upon you. Now doesn't that feel good? No. That feels dysfunctional.
Now why do you do that? Do what?
Why do you take responsibility away from others? Or put another way, why do you steal the power from them that rightly belongs to them anyway? Why do we relieve people of thinking and insist on doing it for them? Is it because we think we are so much smarter than they are? What's up with that?
Empowerment presumes you have the power to give it away to others. But as I was reminded recently non-empowerment is really stealing the power that belongs to them in the first place. Do you feel powerful when you “tell” people what to do? Do you use the excuse that it won’t get done right unless you do it or tell others what to do? Again, how’s that working for you? People who are told what to do often do it with half the passion and energy than if it was their idea or done on their initiative.
If you want to develop people:
- Stop talking – start listening
- Stop telling – start asking - it gets them thinking
- Stop solving problems for people – start creating awareness within people- it will lead them to take responsibility and live into the appropriate action
- Stop making it happen – start facilitating their action
- What is getting in the way of you doing any of the above?
- What are you getting out of not doing it?
- What are you sacrificing?
- What will you do now?
We have all we need in Christ through our baptism. We don't need to build our esteem off of the task or accomplishment or "lording it over" others.
Test your assumptions for one week of new behaviors. Evaluate the results with a coach. Have the courage to make the adjustment toward new behaviors and new thinking. Rejoice in who you are already in Christ.
Empowering Leaders Part 5