Chief Executive, Chief Empowerer… or Both?
Chief Executive, Chief
Empowerer… or Both?

Chief Executive, Chief
Empowerer… or Both?

Great leaders know that, as “chief executives”, they are ultimately accountable for the performance of their organisation (or department, or team).

More significantly… they also know that they cannot achieve those outcomes alone.

It makes sense, then, that organisational and missional success requires a process for identifying, recruiting, developing and empowering the right people.

Oh… and it also means that the chief executive must become the leader of leaders for his or her organisation.

Of course, becoming a leader of leaders is easier said than done.

I might have outstanding instincts for identifying great talent and bringing them onto my team, and I might possess the ability to develop their skills and capabilities… but, just as importantly, becoming the leader of leaders means becoming my organisation’s “chief empowerer”.

Empowerment is tricky. The temptation is to think that delegating tasks to a team member makes that person a leader.

It doesn’t.

Empowerment is one of the most difficult things that you, as chief executive, can do because it actually means giving your power away, which means letting go of control.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

The chief executive empowers other leaders in the organisation when they not only delegate tasks and assign roles… but when they also delegate their authority. In other words, my role as chief executive AND “chief empowerer” is to hand each of my leaders the keys to their respective cars and say go for it…


So, delegating authority is as much an act of humility and trust as anything else.

Meanwhile, the chief executive sets up his or her team of leaders for greater success when they intentionally follow the example of Jesus by taking these practical steps:

  1. Align the vision and values of each leader with those of your organisation. Jesus frequently reminded his disciples what it meant to be his follower and what his (and their) primary mission was.
  2. Give each leader permission to make their own decisions (and, by extension, to make mistakes). Jesus did this when he sent the disciples out on their own to practice what he had been teaching them.
  3. Articulate goals and expectations and hold each leader responsible and accountable for outcomes rather than dictate the execution. We see this when Jesus restored Peter – then instructed him to feed my sheep.

Most importantly, however, being the “chief empowerer” of your organisation also means being the “chief investor” of your organisation… by investing your own time and energy into training leaders to lead.

After all, it can take time to develop a team member to the point where they’re ready to be handed the keys. Jesus spent more than 2 years doing that with his disciples, and it could be argued that they still weren’t ready to drive on their own by the time he left them.

But if the “chief executive” fails to do that — to find the right people, to invest in them, and to empower them — then it is as Larry Osborne writes in Sticky Teams, they have no right to complain about the way their “leaders” do their job, make their decisions, or about the results they’re achieving

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