Leadership Grows Constantly When We Empower Others

September 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Do key people in key positions have to ask your permission?

I was listening to NPR the other day. The topic was the Gulf Oil spill. Specifically, the reporter was focusing her research on the first several hours of the disaster, what were the critical events that occurred, who was responsible for what, etc. She told a powerful story of a man on the rig whom she interviewed. When the leak was first discovered, and enormous amounts of oil began forcefully pouring out, this was the man who, because of his training, knew exactly what he needed to do, and that was to flip a switch that would close the valve on the gushing pipe.

Simple, right?

Not quite.

Why? Because procedure called for him to first contact someone “above” him to get permission to do so. He waited and waited… and waited for a response. When the call finally came and permission was granted from on high, he flipped the switch, and nothing happened. During the long gap of time waiting for permission to do something that he was trained to do, the entire hydraulic system on the rig that controls the valve had shut down.

Big difference between being trained, and being trained and empowered.

If you’re in a position of leadership, are you empowering others?


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