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All effective leaders are simultaneously Decisive and Empowering. What does this look like? Let’s examine the two extremes:

An individual might decide that they know better than anyone else how to manage an organization, or create a product, or guide a project to completion. They take control of the process and insist on making all the key decisions.

So what happens?

First, this takes a tremendous amount of time and energy, and they may come across as arrogant and selfish. Saying “I” over and over is not the way to inspire your team or convey your skills to superiors. If the individual is at the head of the organization or group, they may induce a sense of paralysis in the people who do the actual work. If everyone around you is always trying to guess what you would do instead of acting in the best interests of the whole, this is a recipe for disaster.

No one wants a disaster, so the real key to leadership must be Empowerment, right? So try delegating all your decisions and see what happens.

The opposite extreme looks like a lack of confidence, naked insecurity. Those around you begin to wonder, “He knows what to do, so why doesn’t he do it?” Or perhaps people are waiting for your guidance and direction. They have the skills, they have the will, all they lack is the way and the why. Empowerment is the bridge between Inspiration and Action, but it cannot exist in a vacuum.

An effective leader is Decisive and Empowering. Be bold, clear, and efficient with your decisions, but never miss an opportunity to show your appreciation for the decisions of another.

Which exposes the #1 fear of potential leaders:

Are you afraid you’ll be blamed if everything goes wrong?

Ready for the kicker?

You will be wrong. The more decisions you make, and the more you encourage others to acts independently, the more times you will be wrong. But neither of the extremes above offers a solution. The only solution is to balance these two and learn from your missteps, quickly. All leaders make mistakes, but only great leaders acknowledge them and earn the respect of their team for life.


Tell them you’re making tortillas for lunch, then follow along with Fine Cooking no matter what they say. Potatoes and eggs in a tortilla? Trust me: this traditional recipe is fantastic. Just be careful when you flip it over halfway through cooking, or else it could be a recipe for disaster.