“For a president to select a political rival for a cabinet was not unprecedented; but deliberately to surround himself with all of his disappointed antagonists seemed to be courting disaster. It was a mark of his sincere intentions that Lincoln wanted the advice of men as strong as himself or stronger. That he entertained no fear of being crushed or overridden by such men revealed either surpassing naïveté or a tranquil confidence in his powers of leadership”
One biographer said this of Lincoln’s method of leadership. In the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell portrays him as an American president who lived the LAW OF EMPOWERMENT. His security enabled him to give his power away without hurting his ego.
WHAT IS THE LAW OF EMPOWERMENT?
Leadership Analysts Lynne McFarland, Larry Senn, and John Childress affirm that “ the empowerment leadership model shifts away from “position power”, where all people are given leadership roles so they can contribute to their fullest capacity”. Only empowered people can reach their potential. When a leader can’t or won’t empower others, he creates barriers within the organization that people cannot overcome. If the barriers remain long enough, then the people give up or they move to another organization where they can maximize their potential.
Only secure leaders are able to give themselves away. Maxwell believes that great leaders do not only care who gets the credit, but also care enough to give others the credit for a job well done. That’s the Law of Empowerment action.
Lincoln was truly gifted at giving his power and authority to others. The depth of Lincoln’s Security as a leader can be seen in the selection of his cabinet. Most presidents pick like-minded allies. But not Lincoln. At a time of turmoil for the country when desperate voices were many, Lincoln brought together a group of leaders who would unify his party and bring strength through diversity and mutual challenge. His ability to empower played a major role in his relationship with his generals during the Civil War. Even when his strategies failed him many times, he didn’t give up hope, rather he gave his leaders power and freedom. When the generals performed poorly, Lincoln took the blame.
Donal T. Phillips acknowledged that “Throughout the war, Lincoln continues to accept public responsibility for battles or opportunities missed”. He was able to stand strong during the war and continually empowered others because of his rock- solid security in himself as a leader.
Are you wondering why some of us violate the law of empowerment?
- Desire for Job Security
The number one enemy of empowerment is the desire for a job security. A weak leader worries that if he helps his subordinates, he will become dispensable. But the truth is that the only way to make yourself indispensable is to make yourself dispensable. In other words, if you are able to continually empower others and help them develop so that they become capable of taking over your job, you will become so valuable to the organization that you become indispensable.
- Resistance to Change:
Change is the price of progress. It is in the nature of man as he grows to protest against change, particularly change for the better, but according to Nobel Prize Winner John Steinbeck, empowerment brings constant change because it encourages people to grow and innovate
- Lack of Self Worth:
Many people gain their self worth and esteem from their work or position. Threaten to change either of them, and you change their self- worth, but to those who have confidence in themselves, change empowers them to make a difference by believing in others to influence what goes on around them.
“ To push people down, you have to go down with them”
Many of us fail to abide by the law of empowerment. Rather than finding leaders, building them up, giving them resources, authority and responsibility, and then turning them loose to achieve, we undermine the people we have and subconsciously close our mind to reaching out to others because of our own insecurities. But if you want success as a leader, you have to be an EMPOWERER.
Theodore Roosevelt once remarked “ The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men and to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it”