Empowerment is not a management style; it’s a lifestyle. Empowering leaders are first empowering people. Below I’ve listed 15 ways to know if you are an empowering person. This is drawn from my book The Culture of Empowerment. I believe this will help you move into higher levels of being an empowering person.
You know you are an empowering person if:
- You make people feel important and valuable — You have an unusual ability to make people feel important around you. This is done by active listening, by being fully present, and by noticing, commenting on, and pulling on their strengths in your relationship.
- You thank people specifically, and you are a radical encourager — You notice and affirm the good things others are doing. You genuinely believe the people in your life can do great things, and you believe these people could be one encouragement away from a tipping point in their lives.
- You think “win-win” — You don’t think “win-lose” (with you benefiting by the relationship, but not them). Nor do you think “lose-win” (by having a misguided, self-abasing servanthood attitude that causes personal and family problems for you while the other person benefits from your sacrifice). On the contrary, empowering people look for ways to have a mutual benefit in all relationships. This comes from a mindset that every person has something good to offer, and “everyone” includes us.
- You really “see” people — You are not self-absorbed, but you express delight in meeting someone or seeing someone again (even if this delight is just for a brief moment).
- You have a work yourself out of a job mentality — You instinctively pass on to others what you know. You embody the master and apprentice culture that has dominated most of the mankind’s history.
- You understand the normal pattern of relationships — You realize many of life’s closest and most meaningful relationships go through these three stages: 1) Excitement, 2) Disappointment, and 3) Growth.
- You believe a person’s negative qualities are usually immature aspects of strengths in their life — You know as you are able to celebrate the person’s strength, then the likelihood of having an empowering relationship dramatically increases.
- You include others in what you do — You look for ways to have others work with you, minister with you, sit in on important meetings with you, travel with you, etc.
- You are not afraid of messes, nor do you overreact when they happen — You realize there will be some “messes” made by those being empowered (even if thorough training is done). Also, the empowered leader knows that his or her response to these messes is an important factor in whether people will ultimately thrive under their leadership.
- You give others an opportunity to influence you — You believe everyone has something significant to contribute (an idea, a unique perspective, a life story, etc.). This belief causes empowering people to value relationships at a higher level, and it increases the likelihood of people thriving around them.
- You have a strategy in how to lessen emotional disappointment in relationships —You decrease relational “mind games” by proactively communicating how you see the nature of the relationship. You decrease the likelihood of future relational challenges by intentionally addressing the most likely reasons for future disappointment.
- You “hear” key things people say — You take note and remember key things people say and mention these in future conversations and communication with them. By doing so, you send the message, “Your life and your input are important to me.”
- You regularly use your favor to help open doors for others — You realize that stewarding your favor well means you will endorse the faithful ones in your life to key influencers that you know.
- You are intentional in the meetings you have with people — You maximize meetings by giving thought as to how the time together can be the most beneficial. You realize that five minutes of proactive thinking about these times will likely make the meeting five times more powerful. And these numbers increase even more if this forethought is done days or weeks before the meeting.
- You help people get some “wins” in their lives — You look for ways to help people gain momentum by helping them succeed in small ways.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.