Monday, September 3, 2012

Law No. 12 - The Law of Empowerment - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership


John Maxwell's cry here is that, 'Only secure leaders give power to others'. To empower others means to give others power, right? This means, to delegate, to pass on knowledge, to not do everything yourself. This is the key to leadership, to pass on power means to not think so highly of yourself, that you cannot have someone else fulfil the tasks at hand.

As Maxwell says, 'the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable.’ We must empower others. We must not have what some call a ‘Messiah complex’. You know, the leadership mindset that no one can do the work better than us and we therefore remain privy to all the information, we control the process and we keep people from being involved. Let’s consider some examples of the law of empowerment.

Henry Ford is the prime example John Maxwell uses to explain the law of empowerment. In the early days of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford was a visionary. He made the car accessible to a wide audience, and Ford was booming. Though, Henry Ford was an autocrat. He withheld information. He was antagonistic. He was everything that empowerment is not. See, as Admiral James B. Stockdale says, ‘great leaders gain authority by giving it away’. Henry Ford held onto authority and thus disempowered people.

I think of a recent example of the newly elected Chief Minister of the Northern Territory (Australia), Terry Mills. He continually speaks of giving power away; of Government not holding on to all of the decision making processes. Giving power away (or rather empowerment), seems crucial to effective leadership.

As a follower of Jesus, let me give you a prime example of one who empowered others. Jesus Christ of a little town called Nazareth was born to a very average, normal kind of family. It was a miraculous birth, sure, but it was also a seemingly normal upbringing nonetheless. In just three years of public ministry, Jesus taught many the essence of empowerment. He taught the disciples, he sent the disciples out, and he debriefed with the disciples. Following his resurrection from the dead, the Gospel of John records Jesus telling the disciples, ‘I am sending you…’ Jesus ascended back into heaven, and the disciples were given power (empowered) to fulfill the mission of God. He pretty much was saying, ‘You know guys, this mission that I was a part of on this earth, is the same mission I’m giving you. Now go!’ That’s empowerment.


In applying the law of empowerment in your own leadership journey, consider these words from Maxwell:

Begin dwelling on people’s positive qualities and characteristics. Look for people’s strengths and envision how they could leverage those strengths to achieve significant things. Imagine what individuals could become if they made the most of their gifts and opportunities. Then help them to do so.  

God help us to empower others.

That was Law No. 12 – The Law of Empowerment – adapted from John C. Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

I wrote a post on six elements of power, some of which are negative and some that are positive. This posts comes out of the teachings of John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959, who highlighted 5 sources of power that we need to be aware of.


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Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

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