My Most Life Opening Leadership Lesson of 2011

Leadership Lesson: Empowerment must come from withinWith only two Tuesdays left in 2011, and thus only two more editions of Leadership Chat on Twitter this year, Steve Woodruff and I have chosen to focus tomorrow night’s Chat on looking back at leadership lessons of 2011, and next Tuesday’s on looking forward to our vision for leadership in 2012.

As someone who obviously loves to reflect and ponder at every opportunity, I made a cup of South African tea and sat down by my fireplace anticipating a thoughtful hour spent thinking about what I’d write about when it came to my own most impactful leadership lesson of 2011. Of course, the answer came to me before I’d barely had time to sit: it’s all about empowerment.

Empowerment in Leadership

When I think about empowerment in leadership I equate it to a leader “handing over the keys” to a very valuable car to an individual. To do this takes trust, confidence, a firm belief that the person to whom the keys are being given has the skills necessary to drive the car, and an inner knowing that the person has the same set of values and will respect and take care of the car unequivocally.

When a leader in the business world “hands over the keys” to a project, initiative, business, or team to an individual they are empowering that person through the expression of faith – not in a religious sense – but in a very basic, human fashion. To give power to another person takes real courage, we all know this. I believe this is part of the reason that it is somewhat rare to see real empowerment happen in the business world.

But there is another reason real empowerment can be elusive…and it’s the most eye-opening leadership lesson I learned this year…

The Well-spring of Empowerment

Empowerment must come from within. The source of real empowerment is our inner self, the place where we deem ourselves worthy to be powerful, to trust and be trusted, and to be confidently vulnerable. Because ultimately, when we empower others – when we trust others with power – we put ourselves in a vulnerable position. After all, they might let us down.

They might crash the car, they might not take care of it properly, or they simply might not get to where we want them to go.

Many leaders are uncomfortable with being vulnerable – they see it as a weakness rather than a source of strength and part of the circle of empowerment.

So what’s the secret? Empowering without giving away your own power.

When your own source of empowerment comes from within – and does not rely on the good grace of others to hand you the keys – then you are constantly in a state of personal power.  It’s much easier to hand the keys to others when you know you have a constant source of power within you from which to draw upon!

In 2011 I have become a woman empowered by love, power and wisdom, enriched by my knowing, guided by my intuition and supported by my divinity. Empowerment is going to be a tremendous focus for me in 2012…all because of the lesson I learned in 2011!

What was your most eye-opening leadership lesson of 2011, and how will it impact your 2012?

Please share with us at #LeadershipChat on Twitter Tuesday night, December 20th at 8:00 pm Eastern Time. We look forward to seeing you there and learning from you!

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  1. Henry Motyka says:

    My most eye catching lesson for this year came from a person b the name of John Fugazzie. He was a co-founder of a rapidly expanding job support group called Neighbors helping Neighbors here in Bergen County, NJ. John was unemployed for quite some time and he credits his new job to the networking power of the group. John still serves as the leader of the group as the group expands to more and more towns.

    What makes him exceptional is that he really cares about the member of the group. He has a busy full time job in a company and he runs the group. This is quite a feat. He really believes in the group and his leadership is an inspiration to all of us.

    • Hi Henry,

      It sounds like the lesson is around the idea of having a higher purpose…which John must have to believe so highly in the group and what it is accomplishing. Thanks for sharing and I hope you’ll join us for Leadership Chat tomorrow night!

  2. Good post Lisa!

    I like your point on understanding empowerment comes from within…when we can tape into our own source of empowerment we are more equipped to empower others to perform.

    It makes me think og the Tebow story in the news….he is finding through prayer his source …and it interesting to watch the grace and respect that you see when the game is over, Win or lose people who can extend and receive empowerment in authentic ways create higher level of performance regardless of the current moment’s score.


    • Amy, such a beautiful way to put it. And thank you for the Tebow analogy…he is clearly connected to his own source of empowerment. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow night and share your most important leadership lesson from the year…

  3. Hi Lisa, I did not see a link to where we can join the webcast. This is the first time that I am aware of your Tuseday web cast.

    Dave J.

    • Hi Dave,

      Sorry to be seeing this so late…just finally back in my office. #LeadershipChat takes place on Twitter – it’s not a webcast, at least not yet. :) If you are on Twitter you would simply use a tool like Tweet Deck to follow the conversation via the hashtag ‘#LeadershipChat’ – you would make sure that every tweet you contribute has that hashtag on it. I hope this helps and hope you’ll be able to join us!

  4. Lisa, another wonderful post. My passion for coaching leaders just continues to increase. There are so many fabulously talented people who simply need the guidance to know they can lead. And like winning, it never gets tired to watch someone grow and realize they can take the keys. See you tonight on #Leadershipchat

  5. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the wonderful post. I think that empowerment (and delegation) are my most important things to implement to a greater degree next year.

    One of my biggest lessons this year was to decide once and for all if my purpose (in my company) was to be a builder (strategy, business and people) or a doer or craftsman in the business… which one takes precedence. Ultimately it is about building a company and team that can make great things happen together.

    Lots of thinking and reflecting going on now in prep for 2012.
    Doug Wagner´s last blog post ..How Money Really Works – Part 2 Business Income

    • Thank you, Doug – I appreciate that! And I love the conclusion you came to. :) Wishing you the best with your thinking and reflecting – may you have a truly prosperous and fulfilling 2012!


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