Great organizational leaders enable and empower others

Great organizational leaders have a gift for enabling and empowering others to do their best and to make a difference.

Other qualities matter, too. Honesty, integrity, compassion, administrative skills, knowledge base, good judgment, and vision all count for a ton.

But when it comes to leading organizations, the ability and willingness to encourage, support, mentor, inspire, and permit others to do quality work is the key to success. These leaders allow people to run with things, responsibly but enthusiastically, and sometimes the results can be extraordinary.

Compare: Strategic planning

Earlier this week, I took issue with standard-brand strategic planning processes. Too often these processes seek to control others, limit the agenda, and frustrate innovation and new ideas.

Compare: Handling criticism

It’s also why I wrote about how organizations respond to criticism. Bad organizations and their leaders fail to understand that tucked under every criticism or complaint is a potential idea for reform or positive change.

Compare: Dr. No

In a lousy organization, you also are likely to run into the infamous Dr. No, the human hedgerow whose role is to block any ideas not controlled from on high. Dr. No saps creative and entrepreneurial energies, discourages innovation, and chases away those who bring generosity of spirit and mind to the enterprise.

By contrast

Excellent leaders don’t have time for this nonsense. They acknowledge mistakes and make things right when appropriate. More positively, they create a culture of inclusion, reward quality work and innovation, and encourage their co-workers to improve upon the status quo.


This is the last of three short posts this week on organizational planning, behavior, and leadership.

5 responses

  1. I absolutely agree, David. These great leaders can really tap into human creativity. I think this is scary for some people at the top b/c it involves a letting go of traditional power and represents a loss.

    But the old kind of power doesn’t work in many areas. Especially when we need co-creative problem-solving. You can’t control a basketball game! Get skilled players, practice, motivate, listen and let it emerge!

    I’ve enjoyed your series!


    • Beth, thank you. I should’ve added that these types of leaders are extremely rare…or, perhaps more accurately, people with these qualities are rarely promoted to top positions.

  2. Thinking back over the past two decades of working in the health care industry, I have found that bosses whom allowed me to run with ideas, (even if they didn’t always pan out), gave me real sense of value. In contrast, bosses whom tried to control everything and cut down suggestions, stifled creativity and demoralized. It was the difference between “career” vs “job”. In regards to work place ethics, top executives have the opportunity to enforce good values simply by setting the standards through example.

  3. Another quality of organizational leaders would be ‘enthuse’ others. Also great organizational leaders are able to take the right decisions at times of reorg and strategic planning.

    • Yeah, there’s something about the ability of a quality leader to get folks going about their own work and the organization’s — not in a cheerleader fashion, but rather in a focused and spirited way.

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