Enable Others to Act: How Building Relationships (and Trust) Can Elevate Your Business

Jan 10, 2022

Did you know that one of the most important qualities of a great leader is their ability to create great leaders? A common pitfall among potential leaders is the misconception that they must be in charge of every step of a project, whether or not it is truly necessary. This behavior can lead to lengthy process delays, poor morale, and frustration within the organization. Or perhaps, and this may take some vulnerability, have you found it difficult to build trust within your organization, thus relying on the idea that you must be involved in every decision or step of a project, no matter how small?

While it’s not uncommon to equate leadership with tactical participation in every step of a process, that kind of leadership behavior can contribute to a number of problems – not only for the organization but the leader themselves. Truly exemplary leaders foster collaboration and strengthen others, creating a warm, collaborative environment where people have the confidence to do their jobs and make decisions independently. These leaders utilize the fourth of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®: Enable Others to Act.

Learning how to Enable Others to Act, whether you are a traditional leader of people or an individual contributor, can elevate your entire organization. When people feel trusted and empowered, extraordinary things happen.

Facilitate Relationships
As James Kouzes and Barry Posner say in The Leadership Challenge®, “Extraordinary performance isn’t possible unless there is a strong sense of shared creation and shared responsibility.” Individuals on the path to exemplary leadership need to make the commitment to foster collaboration by creating a climate of trust and facilitating relationships amongst the people within the organization.

As the workplace continues to evolve and teams are more diverse and globally dispersed, it is important that leaders at every level put in the work to get to know and understand the people they are working with.  


Provide People with the Resources They Need to Succeed
Another important thing to consider as you gain the skills to Enable Others to Act, is to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to succeed. These can be tangible, like access to equipment, programs, and technology, or interpersonal, such as more (or less) touchpoints throughout a project, opportunities to lead, or access to educational opportunities.

Arming your people with the resources they need to succeed will contribute to the climate of trust and empowerment you create as an exemplary leader.


Demonstrate Trust
However unintentional, leaders who rely on micromanaging to get the job done inadvertently sabotage the success of their team or project by disempowering people and undermining their area of expertise which creates a fractured and toxic work environment.

Once you have taken the time and energy to get to know the people you work with, you have likely learned a lot about their professional and educational background, and how skilled they are in the area in which they were hired to work. It is easier to trust and empower people you have taken the time to know and understand.

The next step is to take this information you have gathered and relationships you have built and turn that into trust – empowering your people to act independently and confidently.


Like any skill, learning how to Enable Others to Act takes consistent self-reflection, commitment, and practice. Through utilizing the behaviors outlined in the fourth of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, you can take another step on your journey to becoming an exemplary leader, while inspiring others to improve their own leadership qualities along the way.

As you embark on your journey to become an exemplary leader, the Leadership Practices Inventory® (LPI®) assessment can guide the process. The LPI measures how frequently each individual exercises The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership and with this information, individuals at any level and in any organization can identify exactly where they excel as leaders and where they have opportunities to improve. Learn more at https://www.leadershipchallenge.com/.

The Leadership Challenge, Copyright © 2017 by James M Kouzes and Barry Posner

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