The Law of Empowerment is the twelfth of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It states that only secure leaders give power to others.
Henry Ford is a revolutionary innovator in the automobile industry.
He co-founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 with the belief that anyone making a good salary should own a car.
He carried out that vision with the Ford Model T. By 1914, Ford was producing nearly 50 percent of all the automobiles in the United States.
However, the success did not last long because Henry Ford did not embrace the law of empowerment. He was so in love with his Model T that he never wanted to change or improve it — nor did he want anyone else to tinker with it.
One day, his group of designers surprised him by presenting him with the prototype of an improved model, Ford furiously destroyed the car with his own hand.
For almost twenty years, the Ford Motor Company offered only one design, the Model T, which Henry Ford personally developed.
In 1927, he grudgingly agreed to offer a new car to the public but it was far behind its competitors.
In 1931, Ford’s market share was down to 28 percent, about half of what it produced seventeen years earlier.
Barriers to the law of empowerment
Like Henry Ford, you cannot empower your people if you continuously undermine their efforts or look over their shoulders.
You are breaking the law of empowerment if you are tearing down your emerging leaders and losing your best people.
Lee Iacocca, a former Ford President, commented after leaving the company, “Henry Ford had a nasty habit of getting rid of strong leaders.”
In 1943, twenty-six years old Henry Ford II took over the Ford Motor Company. He quickly sought leaders to help him.
Besides, he gathered the support of several key people and brought in experienced executives.
Unfortunately, he felt threatened by the success of the executives and began pitting one top executive against another.
Both Henry Fords failed to abide by the law of empowerment, their insecurity made it impossible for them to empower others.
Practice the law of empowerment
If you want to be a successful leader, you must know how to empower others.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
So, if you want to empower others:
- Turn people loose. Find strong leaders to empower. Build them up, give them resources, authority, and responsibility. Turn them loose to achieve.
- Help them to reach their potential. Be on their side, encourage them, give them power, and help them to succeed.
- Raise them up. To keep people down, you have to stay down with them. The more you raise people up, the more you go up too.
- Be willing to change. Effective leaders are not only willing to change; they become change agents.
- Develop a strong sense of self-worth. If you don’t believe in yourself, you will be threatened by the success of others, and you will eventually look for ways to undermine them. Believe in yourself, your mission, and your people.