Today's challenge is front and center: We challenge you to mentor those who depend on you, and to teach them how to build authority by creating their own circles of influence. The most successful people that we know have spent years building such circles, and here is our recipe for teaching others how to do it:
Freedom, support, and space to fail.
Freedom: You must remove all barriers between your mentees and decision making, which is the single most powerful agent for action. We spend most of our lives under organizations where hierarchical authority is employed, and we often confuse the value of centralized control with the debilitating force of centralized decision making. The former, centralized control, inserts responsibility and organization into systems. The latter, centralized decision making, strangles action, kills innovation, and squashes the daring of the human spirit. By simply telling somebody he is free to make decisions, you will change his entire sense of responsibility and outlook towards whatever he is doing.
Secondly, you should support their decisions as your own. This is the toughest thing to do because it necessarily implies you must sometimes replace your best judgment for somebody else’s. Sounds dangerous right? We find this to be the best guard against subjecting every decision to the strengths and weaknesses of one single personality. This is what we call the elimination of a “single point of failure” in Information Technology speak.
Thirdly, you must allow your mentee space for failure. If they fail, you should demonstrate your support by standing by their mistake and taking responsibility for the error. Conversely, when they succeed you should raise them up as the key person responsible for success.
The pathways of life successes are wide open, and we mean wide open, to those who leave a trail of successful leaders behind them. Those who get the most done, those who are admired most, those who seem to enjoy life most, follow these rules.