In Leaders Who Last, I speak of four key responsibilities of a leader:

1.  Shepherd

2.  Develop

3.  Equip

4. Empower

Today we park on the last of these four…empower! 

Empowering people has to do with creating an atmosphere that frees people to be their best and do their best for the Savior.

Among other things, it means not controlling things too tightly and giving people more freedom to innovate/create and put some of their own ideas and personality into their work.

It means not falling into the command and control style of leadership that was so prevalent in yesteryear and is slowly but surely on the way out.

It’s a matter of learning how to lead people without controlling them. At the heart of a “controlling leader” might be insecurity and fear.

  • Fear that someone might outshine me
  • Fear that something might go wrong
  • Fear that someone’s failure might tarnish my reputation
  • Fear that it might not be done as perfectly as I would have done it

Proverbs 16:15 in the ESV says, “In the light of a King’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.”

Eugene Petersen’s The Message renders that verse this way: “Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re like spring rain and sunshine.” I like that.  Good leaders invigorate the lives of people they lead. One way to do this is to not over-control the way people do their work. Holding people responsible for reasonable results and controlling them is not the same.

I regularly follow about a half dozen bloggers, one of whom is Ron Edmondson.  Here are seven warning signs from Ron that you may be a controlling leader:

  1. People start apologizing prior to approaching you with a new idea
  2. You don’t really know how people feel about you, but you assume they all approve of your leadership
  3. You assume you are always right
  4. You enjoy keeping others with less information than you have
  5. You think you should be involved in making all the decisions
  6. You fear others being in control of a project
  7. You are the final word on every decision