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  • Tiana Cicco

Empowering Leadership

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

The job of true leaders is not to be right all the time

Or to always get their way

True leaders aren’t afraid to be wrong now and then


The job of true leaders is to create safe emotional space

So we can make mistakes

and learn from them


An example


When I’m exercising empowering leadership


–And I say ‘empowering’ instead of ‘empowered’

Because it’s empowering for everyone

Not just me–


When I’m exercising empowering leadership


Sometimes I say ‘yes’ to a co-worker’s idea

Even though I’m fairly sure it will fail


(As long as the failure isn’t ruinous or dangerous)


Why don’t I demonstrate my “leadership”?

Save the poor trainee from their naivety

With my expertise?


Because the smart ones will often resent me

For saying ‘no’ to their idea

On some level they will feel stunted, stopped up, rejected

By my protection


An empowering leader will say ‘yes’ to an idea

Even when they accurately discern

That it’s not the right idea


An empowering leader will say ‘yes’ to a failure idea

And then create a safe emotional space

For the lesson to be learned first-hand


Without judgment or shame but instead

With warmth and humor and a wink


And all the while empowering leaders

Know they may themselves be wrong


There’s always a chance the idea is unforeseen genius

Or can be executed in a more effective way

Than the leader can imagine


After all youth are innovative

And elders get stuck in their ways


Leaders can be so proud of their knowledge

They fail to examine new perspectives


Squelched leaders

who are too proud to be wrong

who are too afraid to learn

and to hold space for the learning of others


These squelched leaders

Think they’re right all the time

And even when they are right all the time

They stunt the evolution of our species


An empowering leader guides

Through the mazes of even our worst ideas

Until we arrive at a solution that feels

True and satisfying for everyone


An empowering leader guides our way to truth

Sometimes with just a quick thought experiment

And sometimes by fully reenacting the predictable failure


Because sometimes utter failure is more convincing

Than a leader explaining why


And sometimes our failures are really our blind spots

And novices have a way of revealing the obvious


True leaders hold truth before pride

Challenging us all to dig deeper

Than our assumptions


Because truth is only satisfying

When we all feel it together


Empowering leaders

Leave no one behind



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