People under the influence of an empowering person are like paper in the hands of a talented artist. No matter what they’re made of, they can become treasures.—John C. Maxwell
John Maxwell said this to sum up a story from his book, Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, about an English artist named William Wolcott who, in 1920s New York, was documenting his impressions of the city.
One day, he was overcome with the urge to sketch and picked up a piece of regular wrapping paper. His friend pointed this out but he said in response, “Nothing is ordinary if you know how to use it.”
Wolcott created two sketches on this canvas and later that year, one of them sold for USD500 and the other for USD1,000. That was a lot of money for the early 1900s.
This is, in essence, why empowering others is pivotal to both personal and professional success. As the poem by John Donne goes: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. . .”
No one, no matter how impressive or skilled or intelligent, can do it alone. Moreover, as an executive and/or leader, the only way to succeed in the long run is to achieve excellence and success through people.
Consider your company a car, your employees the parts that make it run and empowerment the fuel source. If you pump the wrong fuel or poor quality fuel in, you ultimately make your engine less efficient and hamper your car’s performance.
Empowerment = Excellence
There are a number of reasons that empowerment is where a leader’s focus should lie:
1. Empowering establishes pride in people’s work because it means that what they are doing or creating is worthwhile.
2. Empowerment puts faith in others because it shows that you trust them and believe in their potential and skills.
3. Empowerment creates autonomy because you have to step back to let others co-lead.
4. Empowerment allows failure but more importantly, opportunity to grow and learn because while mistakes are inevitable, you’ve allowed a positive, strength-based mindset to exist.
5. Empowerment opens the floor to upcoming innovators and winners because what some people need to be great is the opportunity to be great.
It’s a win-win for everyone. You enhance the success of both yourself and others by further enabling others to be their best selves.