The #1 Skill to Improve for Better Leadership Results

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I recently sent out a survey to over 600 leaders, asking them one question:

In thinking about your leadership, what would you most like to change/improve this year?

As you can imagine, the responses ranged widely, from “organize myself to be more productive” to “I’m retiring and want to leave my company in better shape than it was when I took over.” These are, of course, valid and important concerns. But one area of leadership garnered the biggest response. In fact, a full 27% of respondents focused on this as their biggest area for improvement:

Engaging and empowering their teams.

Responses included:

  • “Engaging with my team more for both personableness and productivity.”
  • “…how to motivate employees by inspiring them.”
  • “Spend more time coaching employees for success and less time managing for specific results.”
  • “…to empower those I lead to become their best.”

I find it telling and encouraging that so many leaders recognize the importance of engaging and empowering their teams. Because by doing so, I believe leaders can change the world, one team member at a time.

What is true in relationships is true in business: the best results happen when you create a context in which each participant can become their best selves.

In relationships & business, the best results happen when you create a context where each person can become their best selves. #leadership Click To Tweet


In his seminal book, The 5 Levels of Leadership, leadership expert John Maxwell calls Level 4 Leadership Based on People Development. This is what we’re talking about here. To “empower those you lead to become their best.”

So, how do you do that?

Big question. And there are a lot of answers. But today, I’m going to focus on what I think is the most important skill for empowering your team members—and it comes down to one word:


Maxwell himself suggests that you should delegate any task that someone else on your team can do with 80% or more of your efficiency.


Delegate any task that someone else can do with 80% or more of your efficiency. #Leadership Click To Tweet

When you delegate your tasks to one of your team members, you accomplish three important things:

  1. You demonstrate to that team member, in a very real way, that you trust her.
  2. You challenge that team member to develop and grow new skills—and two of our biggest needs as working humans are to have challenging (but doable) work, and to have the opportunity to improve and grow.
  3. You free yourself up from doing tasks that others can do, which means you can spend more time coaching and developing your team.

When your team members have challenging work that gives them an opportunity to grow, they will feel more engaged in—and become more empowered by—their work. So spend some time this week looking at your day-to-day schedule and ask yourself what you can delegate to someone else.

You’ll not only be developing your people—you’ll also be developing yourself as a leader.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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