Three Lessons in Equipping Leaders

In today’s post I want to share a few thoughts from an application piece that I put together for a recent Maximum Impact Club lesson on “How Leaders Develop.” In this lesson, John Maxwell talks about the three “E’s” toward developing as a leader. They are Environment, Equipping, and Exposure, and in today’s post I want to focus on the second “E” – Equipping.

Equipping Leaders

First, equipping doesn’t happen by accident; it’s intentional. And equipping yourself and your team must be a top priority if you truly desire to develop and grow. As a business leader, I’ve found that developing others with me is critical to sustain the type of growth I want to see in my organization.

But how do we find the time needed to equip ourselves and those around us? Most of us collapse into bed at night exhausted, and we still didn’t accomplish everything we wanted to get done! Here are three “equipping” lessons I’ve learned along my leadership journey.

1. Make a Commitment

If you want to develop those around you, you have to make a conscious decision to do so. Of course, making the decision is the easy part. Putting that decision into action is when it gets hard. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds.” But when you actually have to make healthy choices or wake up an hour early to exercise, the decision becomes harder to pull off.

My recommendation is to save yourself the time and frustration of thinking leadership will just happen, and realize that if you are committed to developing as a leader, it will take discipline. If great leadership was as easy as merely making a decision, the leadership challenges that we face in our workplaces wouldn’t exist.

2. Lay the Foundation

As a leader, I don’t hide the fact that I want to act on what I’ve learned, and my teammates know I want to grow as a leader. This allows me to challenge my team because they know that I expect them to act on leadership principles.

I do this by exposing myself, then my team, to various leadership training materials or lessons we’re focused on at the time. Each week I try to make it a point to be an example of the lessons or notice someone living out a specific leadership principle. When I see these leadership actions in motion, I make them public via a quick e-mail to the team so everyone can benefit from the learning opportunity.

3. Learn Together as a Company

One of my favorite ways to equip leaders is through book study groups. In our company, we have “Lunch and Learns” on a weekly basis. We select a book, everyone in the group reads the scheduled chapter for that week, and then we simply get together during lunch to discuss what we liked about it. We also talk about our strengths, areas where we need to improve, our frustrations, and how we can adjust to meet the expectations the book gives us. (Check out my leadership library for some of my favorite books.)

The best part of a Lunch and Learn group is that we hold each other accountable throughout the week to act on what we learned. We share these “live it out” and accountability stories the next week before talking about the next chapter. This consistent weekly process helps bring to life the reality of leadership.

It Takes More than One Passionate Leader

I know that regardless of how passionate I am about living out leadership, it takes a lot more than my head and my heart to drive the leadership culture and organizational growth that I want to see. It takes a determined mindset to see it through and a well developed team to help me live it out, and that’s why equipping others is so important.

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  • Angelina says:

    I love this blog post. I am a firm believer in everyone being a leader regardless of title. I was able to take the 360 Leadership course and loved what I learned that day. I really liked the section on laying the foundation. I think exposing yourself as well as your team allows you and your team to grow. We need more leaders out there who will take the incentive to work with others in the way they lead. Leading is influencing other and not just a position or title. To be a true leader you have to believe in what you do and the principles of leadership! GREAT POST!!!

    Express Austin, Tx

  • […] Tuesday’s post, we talked about three lessons in equipping other leaders. They include making the commitment, laying the foundation, and making sure that you’re learning […]

  • Cashlie says:

    Yeah it does! But I don’t know where you’re going to get any material for that?….. 🙂

  • Annie says:

    I’m curious about the e-mails you send to the whole team when you want to highlight a team member living out some leadership principle…How does that work so that it doesn’t seem awkward or patronizing?

    • Linda Sasser says:

      Here’s an example of something I might say in an e-mail…

      “Hey gang, just wanted to send a shout-out to John today for stepping out there and applying what we just discussed yesterday in our meeting. He was able to have a crucial conversation with a teammate who was causing the team grief. Thanks John for applying what we learned this week. If you wouldn’t mind I’d love for you to share this experience in our next meeting so we can all learn from it. Thanks!”

      Keep in mind I don’t send these e-mails out to the entire company, just the team that had the lesson or conversation so it’s not awkward.

      Also, thanks for mentioning “patronizing.” My reputation is not one to patronize so I don’t have that issue. But this can be an issue if someone is known for giving out too many fake compliments. “Fake Leaders” …hum, that sounds like a great blog topic. 🙂