Are You an EMPOWERING Leader or an OVERPOWERING Leader?

We’ve all seen bad leadership. There are days when self-absorbed team captains discourage you. There are times when you bond with your coworkers over your boss being upset with you because you got sick and had to leave work early. Many of us will become leaders, but with so many toxic leader role models walking the Earth, we have to be careful not to follow in their footsteps. With leadership comes great responsibility, especially when it comes to empowering our followers. A leader sends things downhill when they mistake being empowering with being overpowering. Below are some things to keep in mind when challenging yourself to become a strong, positive and empowering leader.


OVERPOWERING leaders are authoritative.

EMPOWERING leaders are democratic.

All leaders  face times when they need to be authoritative, but it’s not healthy to always be commanding of your followers. Other group members want to and should have a say in decisions and ideas. They are part of the team and deserve to know they and their opinions are valued.


OVERPOWERING leaders micromanage and see their followers as incapable.

EMPOWERING leaders trust their followers and leave room for creativity.

Nobody likes being told what to do. People appreciate it when leaders set guidelines, boundaries and expectations, but they don’t want leaders to fill in the cracks. Followers need a chance to exercise their creativity. They also need to know the setting is a safe space to explore their originality. If they are restricted, they will be far less motivated and productive, which ultimately results in poor performance.


OVERPOWERING leaders make their followers feel bad for making mistakes.

EMPOWERING leaders help their followers understand how to be the best they can be.

One time at my first-ever job, when I worked in retail, I forgot to upsell to a customer. When the customer left the store, my employer blamed me for the fact that the store was losing money and that the other workers were struggling to put food on the table for their families. That’s a lot of pressure to put on the shoulders of a teenager. In that kind of situation, leaders should skip the whole blame game and focus more on helping their followers learn how to make the perfect sale for next time.


OVERPOWERING leaders always shut down followers’ ideas.

EMPOWERING leaders try to find a way to make it work.

If an idea won’t benefit the organization, that’s fine, but a leader should at least consider the idea before making a decision. Oftentimes, leaders have a set plan in mind for how they want to run things. If a follower’s idea doesn’t fit the plan, an overpowering leader shuts the idea down right away. Empowering leaders, on the other hand, see each idea as a possible improvement to the bigger picture.  


OVERPOWERING leaders don’t acknowledge their own mistakes.

EMPOWERING leaders hold themselves accountable.

Leaders have to walk the talk, otherwise followers will feel cheated and unmotivated. If their leader isn’t following the rules, followers will think, “Then why should I?” Leaders who hold themselves accountable create a more trusting and honest atmosphere among their team.


OVERPOWERING leaders are only in it for the title.

EMPOWERING leaders want to impact lives.

It’s their organization, their money, a result of their hard work, blah, blah, blah. Everything the light touches belongs to them. You can tell when someone is only in it for his or her self. They’ll act like everything is only theirs and their followers are just their minions. A good leader genuinely wants to make sure their followers are gaining something from the experience. A good leader sees the greater purpose and responsibilities behind their job, and not just the fame and glory.


OVERPOWERING leaders are only ever task oriented.

EMPOWERING leaders are relationship oriented.

As a leader, it’s important to be both task oriented and relationship oriented. Without focusing on tasks, the team won’t be productive. Without focusing on building relationships, there will be no trust or respect. Followers need to feel valued and cared for, and building relationships with them will help with that. A leader who is strictly task oriented will come across as just money focused and power hungry. A good leader will take time to set tasks aside and work on building meaningful relationships with their team.


OVERPOWERING leaders empower themselves.

EMPOWERING leaders empower everyone.

No one's ever changed the world alone. They got help; they empowered people; they inspired a movement. No matter what you achieved, somebody helped you. Followers are as important as the leader because without the motivation of a handful of people, the organization goes nowhere. Just remember this: a team is unstoppable when all members are empowered.