Chapter 6 Empower others to shine

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.

Benjamin Disraeli

Several years ago a client called me and asked if I could book a session to teach a specific training module. I wasn't available on the day they wanted me to come, so we tried to find another day. We went back and forth on several dates and I wasn't available for any of them. Eventually I told them that one of my team members, Grant, was an expert on this module and that he could teach it instead of me. They told me, ‘No, we want you.'

I put the phone down and was struck by how delighted I felt. I mindfully explored that emotion until I realised that I was delighted to have been chosen by the client over Grant. As soon as that realisation jumped out at me, I was floored by a second insight: a good leader would be disappointed, not delighted, that his team member hadn't been picked over him. A good leader would empower his team members to shine, rather than constantly trying to shine himself.

And then a third, even deeper insight revealed itself as I pondered on why I fell short in this regard as a leader: it all came down to insecurity. I needed to feel important. I needed to feel valued. And that feeling outweighed my imperative as a leader to help my team members shine, to boost their confidence and abilities, to empower them to be the best they could be.

That experience taught me a profound lesson on leadership that ...

Get The Mindful Leader now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.