The Leadership Challenge – Week 5 – Enable Others to Act

The fourth Practice of Exemplary Leadership from The Leadership Challenge is to enable others to act. Leaders cannot do it all alone. They must surround themselves with capable, trustworthy people who are working together toward a shared vision. The Leadership Challenge authors remind us that “collaboration is the master skill that enables teams, partnerships, and other alliances to function effectively” and that “collaboration can be sustained only when leaders promote a sense of mutual reliance – the feeling that we’re all in this together.”

Think about a time when you worked with a leader who really empowered you to be the best version of yourself. These transformational leaders help us to succeed at a higher level, building our belief in ourselves and our commitment to the goal we’re working to achieve.

As part of enabling others to act, the authors of The Leadership Challenge identify two commitments:

  1. Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.
  2. Strengthen others by sharing power and discretion.

It’s not always easy to trust other people. Trust isn’t typically given freely; it must be earned. Kouzes and Posner suggest that you can begin to build a climate of trust by being the first to trust. They remind us that trust is contagious and that “people must feel safe and secure to develop trust.”

As leaders, we can strengthen others by giving them opportunities to lead and make decisions. We can also strive to build confidence in those who look to us for leadership. When we believe in them, we inspire them to believe in themselves. The best leaders are coaches; they help others “learn how to use their skills and talents, as well as learn from their experiences.”

Challenge Questions for Today:

  • How do you set your family, friends, and colleagues up to succeed?
  • Are you trustworthy? Are you willing to be the first to trust?
  • Am I a good coach? How do I empower others and create opportunities for them to lead?

Check back with us next Friday where we will explore the fifth and final Practice of Exemplary Leadership (and my personal favorite), Encourage the Heart. Enter this weekend with enthusiasm for what you will experience!

Source: Kouzes, J.M. and Posner, B.Z. (2002). The leadership challenge. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

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