Are you empowering your own success?

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” 

Bill Gates

What does it mean to “empower others?” According to dictionary.com, the definition of “empower” is: “to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.”

Besides having the ‘power or authority to authorize,’ what is required from a leadership perspective to enable empowerment?  

Here are some of the critical leadership behaviors required to build an empowered culture.  

The first is clarity. To create an empowered culture, the leader must ensure that the team is crystal clear on its purpose and intent. Without clarity, empowerment cannot exist.

Second, the leadership must reinforce that results are more important than who makes the decision.  In an empowered culture, it doesn’t matter who makes the decision or who gets the credit; what’s important is delivering the desired results.  

Third, the leader focuses on asking the right questions versus giving the answers.  Otherwise, the team is aggressively waiting to be told what to do—this is the antithesis of empowerment.

Fourth, there is an ownership mentality versus renting. Empowered teams thrive when they are expected to behave like owners, not renters.  

The exciting thing is that the same attributes apply when considering self-leadership and developing your empowerment as an individual. Consider the above in question form:

  1. Do I have clarity about what is essential and important?
  2. Have I identified the results that matter?
  3. What are the right questions I need to be asking myself?
  4. What do I need to do to demonstrate complete ownership of my life?

The most beautiful thing about empowerment? It creates more leaders…

Are you crystal clear on what is important to you?

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” 

Douglas MacArthur

I recently had a conversation with an incredibly talented group of folks on the impact and importance of having clarity as a leader. I sincerely believe that effective leadership begins with self-leadership. One must lead yourself before you can start to realize your potential in the service of leading others.  Period. Full stop.  Without effective self-leadership, you will fall short of who you are capable of becoming.  

What does this have to do with today’s quote? The ability to execute with authenticity the specific behaviors outlined in the message comes from clarifying who you are, what is important to you, where you are going, and how you want to treat those around you.

Clarity breeds confidence.  

Clarity fuels courage.  

Clarity creates compassion.

In a nutshell, defining and creating clarity for yourself allows you to show up with authenticity FOR others

Clarity is what defines your actions and demonstrates the integrity of your intent...

What do you see when you look within?

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Those who look outside, dream. Those who looks inside, awaken.”

Carl Gustav Jung

What do you draw on to find your energy? What motivates you to bring your dreams to life? Does it come from something external or internal?  

The only way a dream can become a reality is if the vision and the motivation come from within yourself. All the dreaming in the world won’t work if you don’t know why you are doing it.  

If you dare to look within, what do you see?  

Seeking clarity…

“In times of disruption, clarity is the next best thing to certainty.”

Andy Stanley

Lets face it, over the past 45-60 days we have seen incredible disruption across the entire world in almost every category of life. Nothing is quite the same as it was just a few short months ago. People’s lives have been changed, in many cases forever.

As humans we crave consistency. We want assurances that our lives will go according to our plans. We need a foundation of rock upon wish to build our lives even though we are never really in charge.

As leaders we have the challenge of casting a vision of certainty in these most uncertain times. In the absence of knowing what will happen, we must create transparency about what is happening and what we are doing about it.

This isn’t a different challenge than what existed in a pre-Covid 19 world, it has always been the role of the leader to create and cast a vision of the future that influences and impacts the behavior of those they serve. A key principle in accomplishing a vision has been to remove uncertainty and doubt and clarify what is important. Never has this been more important than now.

In the absence of certainty I am reminded of one of my favorite, and most comforting verses in scripture.

‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. ‘ Psalm 23:1-6

We will never know all that is going to come, but whenever there is a lack of certainty we always have a source of exceptional clarity about what is truly important.

No more sabre toothed tigers…

“One of the key qualities a leader must possess is the ability to detach from the chaos, mayhem, and emotions in a situation and make good, clear decisions based on what is actually happening.”

Jocko Willink

The more emotionally engaged one is with a given situation or challenge, the less data-driven and pragmatic you are likely to be. Case in point, there is a lot going on the world right now, and the impact and severity on the lives of others shouldn’t be minimized. However, making decisions based on an emotional response such as fear are far less likely to be well reasoned and rational than those decisions that are rooted in constructive and logical thinking practices.

When the “monkey mind” takes over, and emotions and chaos reign supreme, do what generations of successful leaders have preached across the centuries.

Pause. Breathe. Think.

There is nothing better than a deep breath and a moment of pause to help bring things into focus. If you don’t, then you are letting the reptilian portion of your brain rule your world. That might have worked in the age of sabre toothed tigers, but it doesn’t serve us well in most situations today…

To see, let the mud settle…

“Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”

Bil Keane

I love the analogy presented in this quote. When water is stirred up the silt and mud serve to prevent us from seeing what is right there in front of us. When we give ourselves the time and space to think and reflect the silt and mud settles and we can truly see.

The world today enables a life where we live in a constant state of distraction and disquiet. The world is always “pinging” us with some type of urgent call for our attention. This makes it incredibly hard to focus and really think about the most important things. All of this stuff is the “mud” in life that prevents us from seeing what is right there in front of us.

To be able to “see” fully and completely one must intentionally create the time and space that allows the mud to settle. For me that is time spent in prayer and meditation. This brings to mind a verse that I have been studying and ruminating on quite a bit this year. ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ‘ Romans 12:2

Doing this well won’t happen by accident. It takes intentional effort and the building of new habits. But it is worth it. When you can see clearly the beauty of life is revealed…

Clear expectations first…

“What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.”

Chip Heath


If you don’t understand the reason for a change can you really be committed to the hard work it takes to make it happen? As a leader if people are resisting change have you done all the work necessary to communicate clearly why the change is needed?

It is our responsibility as leaders to own the creation of clarity with our teams. No on else is responsible or accountable for this critical step. If you haven’t set clear expectations change won’t stick…

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dusty

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