Leadership Limerick: Enable Others to Act

Every Monday, I offer a leadership limerick, highlighting an idea or strategy about effective leadership in limerick form. Searching for leadership limerick will identify previous posts.

Whenever there is much to do,
It can’t end up being just you.

Find others who care.
Responsibility? Do share.

And success will likely ensue.

Western culture tends to favor the heroic myth of the lone leader in control.  Will Apple survive without Steve Jobs?  Can Meg Whitman save HP?  If only President Obama would ______.

But one person can only do so much.  And often the most important thing to do is to get more people doing things.  James Kouzes and Barry Posner identified this as enabling others to act one of the five practices of extraordinary leaders identified in their seminal book, The Leadership Challenge.

Enabling others to act involves: (1) fostering collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and developing trust, and (2) strengthening others by sharing power and discretion.

So the next time all eyes turn to you, don't enable or perpetuate the falsehood that one person can do it alone.  Instead, look to enable others to act and build a more sustainable shared leadership, be it in a relationship with a partner, in an individual department or team, or throughout an organization or community.

If you're interested in learning how to facilitate greater commitment and contributions of others, on December 15 I will again be doing a full-day workshop in DC for ASAE on The Art of Facilitation. I'll share a registration link as soon as it is available, but mark your calendars now.