In essence, what this means is that a person in a position of leadership can transfer his or her authority and influence to others. I remember back in the days when I was in printing sales and later in the field of motivation. I had to learn who the decision-maker was very quickly. Otherwise, I would have been spending a lot of valuable time with the wrong people. The decision-maker was not necessarily the top person, especially in a large organization, but the decision-maker did have to get their authority from somewhere.
This is where the “Principle of Empowerment” comes into play. In order to bring what I’m saying a little closer to home, let me share a couple of examples that will make this principle very clear to you.
The first example involves a wealthy businessman who has held a number of conferences over the years for some of his key people at a ski lodge in Deer Valley, Utah. The last time this group was there, as they went to check out on their way to the airport, this businessman went to the office to settle up and discovered that one of the couples had left their key in the room. Time was short and they would have missed their flight had they returned to get it.
The desk clerk said, “I’m going to have to charge you $25 for the lost key.” The businessman said, “I don’t feel good about this additional charge. The key is in the room and over the past several years we have spent over $100,000 with your company.” The desk clerk became even more rigid and would not drop the additional charge. After becoming very irritated, the businessman finally paid the extra charge and went on his way. Later this man said to his wife, “The desk clerk is not the one at fault here. The fault lies with the owner who failed to train him properly.” In other words, he was not empowered with even a little common sense which could cost the company some very profitable business.
Now, contrast this with an employee for a major West Coast department store. The day before this man and his wife were to leave for Deer Valley, she went to this department store to buy her son a pair of pajamas. She picked out a nice pair, but discovered they had to be hemmed before he could wear them. The lady employee of this department store did not blink. She offered to have them hemmed and drive them out to this couple’s home that night so her son could have them in time for the trip. And the pajamas is all she bought. The business philosophy of this department store was based on the “Principle of Empowerment” which can be summed up in this very simple statement, “Use your good judgment in all situations.”
Empowering is simply anyone in a leadership position giving his or her influence and authority to others for the purpose of personal and organizational growth. To do this is not quite that simple because this process takes time. Before a person can be empowered, there are four qualifications that must be met:
No. 1 is “Position.” We cannot empower someone we do not lead.
No. 2 is “Relationship.” We must have a relationship with those we empower.
No. 3 is “Respect.” Relationships cause people to want to be with us, but respect causes people to want to be empowered by us.
No. 4 is “Commitment.” Regardless of the trials and tribulations we encounter, if we are committed, we will never take our eyes off the goal.
If you would like to know more about the “Principle of Empowerment,” pick up a copy of the book titled “Becoming a Person of Influence,” by John C. Maxwell and Jim Dornan. Most quality bookstores have it or can order it for you.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)