Last week while I was on the road I finally got a chance to read the book “The 4-Hour Workweek“, by Timothy Ferriss (check it out here on my Amazon page).
I’ll be posting a full review of the book on March 10 on Joyful Jubilant Learning (bookmark it or subscribe now so you don’t miss it), but I wanted to raise a particular leadership point featured in the book today, because I believe in it so fervently.
I’ll put the point in my own words: “Empowerment Equals Leadership Freedom”
Or perhaps a more pointed subtitle, “Be an Enabler, Not a Disabler”
Ferriss talks about this in a quite different context than I would (he uses it as a means to a different end – stay tuned for the book review), but he makes a powerful case nonetheless for “pushing down” as much responsibility as possible. His key observation:
“It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them”
Ah yes, trust. I’ve personally seen someone grow two inches taller upon my utterance of these magic words – “I trust you”.
It is a marvelously enabling string of words – and not without risk. It takes a good degree of courage to let something go, since as humans I think we have a tendency to be control freaks. I can personally attest it’s a pretty strong thing to resist.
But resist we must, because from a leadership perspective enabling reveals something else – our effectiveness in selecting and hiring teammates.
Because if we can’t entrust someone with proper responsibilities commensurate with the job description, we simply shouldn’t hire them. Having too many “disabled” teammates chains a leader to too much minutiae, and gives him or her much less freedom to do what leaders really should be doing – LEADING.
And that’s the kind of freedom that leads us to our own promised land of job fulfillment.
Ferriss included a great quote from Henry David Thoreau in his book that sums it all up very nicely:
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone”
So set them free, and find the richness in your leadership life.