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This chapter is from the book

The Leader Empowers

But what do you do if you don't know how to achieve your goal? What happens if you want to attain a dream? You empower people. You have a vision. But anyone can have a vision. Visions don't work unless the people who have to find their way to the vision are given sufficient empowerment to take the actions necessary to reach the vision without continually needing to refer back to their leader.

Compared with command and control leadership, empowering leadership was designed for a different context, offered different kinds of outcomes, and required very different behavior. People who had grown up with command and control leadership continued to expect predictability, accuracy, and the dominance of knowledge and experience. They were frequently disappointed.

The true visionary leader allows followers to be highly empowered so they have the flexibility to take whatever actions are necessary to achieve the vision. Many leaders from the previous era were unwilling to give up their own power by empowering others.

So, the two main forms of leadership that have been used and understood in organizations are the command and control approach and the empowerment and visionary approach.

Sadly, when we look around many organizations, what we find are empowerment words and control actions. This results in the worst of both worlds. We want people to be imaginative, risk-taking, and creative, but still to return their projects on time on budget and be able to forecast the outcome of the next quarter to the nearest dollar. Organizations must learn to more clearly recognize which of these two leadership styles is more appropriate to which context. Both are fine in the right context. Both will work very badly in the wrong context.

Unfortunately, there is an emotional difficulty to be overcome. For the most part, people find the notion of being visionary leaders more romantic and attractive than being controlling managers. Hence, the command and control approach tends to have a poorer image than that of the empowering and visionary leader. But both methods work well in their own contexts. The question that modern leaders have to ask themselves is: "What is the right method for this particular context?"

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