The Power of Enabling Others to Act

Document created by 1050210 on Nov 13, 2014
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Published Date: 08/18/2014


By Linda Taylor


Early in my career as an HR Manager, I became involved in a dispute over when a resume had been received from a staffing agency. The job candidate presented himself to us, but later the agency shared his resume and demanded payment for service. I explained that we had already met the candidate and offered him a position.


The agency contacted the VP of our division and requested a meeting. The VP took the meeting, but when the agency representative arrived, she introduced me as the person he needed to deal with to arrive at a solution. She then excused herself. That was a powerfully enabling action the VP made for me – she made it clear to the other party that she had full confidence in my ability. That same manager was instrumental in putting me in several other visible situations that resulted in a real boost to my career. I’ve tried to remember that lesson and use it to help others.


Sometimes managers can effectively rob their employees of power by taking back authority or sacrificing them in front of colleagues. When we practice “Enabling Others to Act,” one of the five exemplary practices of The Leadership Challenge®, we put our colleagues and direct reports in a position to succeed by showing our trust in their ability. Developing trust does not happen overnight, but, it has to start somewhere. One way is to extend trust to your colleagues and direct reports and demonstrate your reliability. Then, people will slowly begin to trust you in return.


How can we as leaders of our organizations strengthen our colleagues by providing opportunities to shine and make decisions? The best leaders and coaches look for ways to use the strengths of their players and opportunities to showcase their talent. Is there something you are doing that you can turn over to your employees? Are there moments to spotlight their technology prowess or public speaking ability?


Good leaders are always on the lookout for ways to bolster their team members’ confidence and profile. In return, employees drive the company’s growth. And, they learn how to develop the full potential of others. It becomes a cycle of learning, enabling and teaching others that continues to benefit everyone involved.


To learn about more practical ways you can enable others, consider registering for The Leadership Challenge® Workshop offered in Raleigh and Greensboro this fall at