Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The cost and rewards of empowering others

Empowerment by leaders is often ubiquitously poor. The reason is that there is a cost to empowerment and many leaders are unwilling to pay the cost. So any discussion of empowerment must begin by acknowledging that cost. Let me suggest three costs that prevent leaders from empowering others.

First, and this is a big one for leaders. When we empower, things may well not be done the way we would do them. Nor should they as we are not the fount of all wisdom and strategy. God gave gifts to people for a reason. If they are good staff they will figure out how they should do what they do. Empowerment naturally means that we give up a measure of control. Otherwise it is not empowerment.

Second, we are afraid that something will go wrong. If we have good people it is not likely but life is messy. And, unless we give people the opportunity to try and even fail, they will never learn and grow. For me, the best lessons I have learned in leadership was through getting it wrong on occasion. Both Jesus and Paul were willing to let people fail and learn from those failures.

Third, many leaders are controllers rather than empowers. They need to micromanage and insist that others do things they would do it. Jesus does not do that with us and we ought not try to control others. Control is dysfunctional leadership. Setting appropriate boundaries is necessary but control is dysfunctional.

What are the rewards of empowering others?

First, people grow in their skills and responsibility. If I only do what you tell me to do and how to do it I don’t develop my own skills to think, analyze, and lead. Paul was willing to empower leaders where he planted churches knowing that they would mess up on occasion which is why he wrote some of his epistles. In the process those leaders grew in their leadership. We only learn to take responsibility when we are given responsibility.

Second, we develop a leadership and staff bench, sorely needed by most ministries. Need more good staff? It only happens when we find and empower good staff and give them a chance to develop their skills.

Third, it expands our influence. Each of us is limited in what we can personally do. We expand our influence for the Kingdom as we develop, empower and release others in line with their gifting and skills. I for one want to have the greatest influence for Jesus that I can. That means that I need to focus significant time on developing others. As we multiply empowered and skilled staff we directly increase our influence.


I talk to many staff in many ministries who tell me that they are not empowered. Some are given responsibility without the necessary authority. Others are not free to use their creativity to get the job done in ways that may be different from the way their supervisor would do it. In my own experience the best staff eventually leave when they are not empowered in their work. On the other hand, those who are empowered become loyal to the organization because they are able to contribute in meaningful ways.


Posted from Havana Cuba


All of T.J. Addington's books including his latest, Deep Influence,  are available from the author for the lowest prices and a $2.00 per book discount on orders of ten or more.

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