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Merriam-Webster defines equipping as providing someone with necessary materials or supplies; providing something with a particular feature or ability; and preparing someone for a particular activity or problem.  Leadership is not in a vacuum.  Many leaders view their role or position from a stance of power.  Although one of the forms of power is positional, leadership is never about power, but about influence.  Influencing others to transcend their thoughts and performance to a higher plane that is beyond themselves is the foundation of effective leadership.  Showing the way as an example and supporting your followers strengthens the bond between you and your followers.  You must care for each of them, both personally and professionally.  You must take responsibility for their personal and professional growth and create and maintain an environment of opportunity that allows each one to growing daily.

Have you ever showed up for work on the first day and your boss looked at you, threw you the keys, and said, "good luck?"  This actually happened to me and as I looked around, no one was there with any idea to help, much less suggest, me to know what I should be doing or how to do it.  Effective leaders never leave their people stranded.  They make equipping a priority, which makes the leader and the team much stronger and effective.  If you want to know how effective a leader is, look at the independence of his or her followers.  Below are eight things leaders can do to help equip their followers to grow and expand their borders.

Although one of the forms of power is positional, leadership is never about power, but about influence.

#1 Leaders care for their followers.  

They communicate very well and affirm the positives in individuals.  They understand that mistakes are a part of growth and provide an example that helps the follower correct the mistake and grow.  Having more knowledge is not enough.  People want to know that you care for them FIRST.  Then they will listen to what you have to say.  Anything less becomes management.

#2 Leaders understand that a person's strengths are what make him better.  

Therefore, highlighting those strengths and placing him in an environment to use those strengths not only helps equip the individual for higher potential, it moves the organization forward, makes the unit and organization more effective, and increases higher performance outcomes.  Recognizing weaknesses is important.  Outlining a plan to manage them is crucial to keep detriments low.  However, effective leaders understand the power of strengths.  It is the best part of you.  Therefore, feed it!

#3 Leaders give of themselves to their followers.  

It's not about locking yourself in an office.  It's not about your name plate on your desk or your corner office, both which are temporary because someone else will be there soon.  It's about giving yourself to those who follow you.  Giving your time, which shows how much you care.  Using situations as teaching points to your followers.  Giving your energy and enthusiasm to them shows how much you care.  They are the ones that bestow upon you the honor as a leader, not your position.  Give yourself to them.

#4 Leaders delegate and empower.  

Understanding this is not a lack of accountability, leaders are willing to share the tasks with others.  Getting things done through other people is a universal definition of both leadership and management.  Learning to let go and delegate both responsibility and authority helps followers grow.  Giving them the opportunity to make key decisions and learn the skill of effective decision-making is important to their growth and development.  Soon, you experience the fruits of a learning organization where all are learning, making decisions, and understanding the impact of those decisions on performance.

#5 Leaders are a resource to their followers.  

You are supposed to be the expert in your area.  Your followers are looking to you for advise.  They are looking for you to provide them with the necessary tools to complete their assignments.  They are expecting an atmosphere of learning, delegation, creativity, and innovation that allows them to think outside of the box and make decisions that are best for the team and the organization.

#6 Leaders make their expectations clear.  

Ambiguity is a frightening feeling.  It leaves the employee unsettled and frozen with inaction.  It blocks effective decision-making due to an unclear outcome.  Make your expectations known.  Hold your followers accountable and be clear as to the measures.  Your followers will know exactly where you stand and their performance expectations.  I used to tell my subordinates, always give me more than I ask for.

#7 Leaders eliminate those things that are unnecessary to the follower's task.

 Demanding performance expectations and not eliminating unnecessary burdens hampers performance.  Again, the sense of ambiguity sets in and followers feel overwhelmed and become hampered to make decisions.  Eliminating these unnecessary activities frees the follower to utilize his talents and concentrate on the task.

#8 Leaders reward on a continual basis.  

This doesn't mean rewards are frivolous.  Remember, expectations must be clear as to the standard of excellence.  When your followers do something outstanding, reward him.  Many performance management systems are designed to reward only at the time of appraisal.  However, rewarding when deserved increases motivation, which increases morale, job satisfaction, and performance.  

A general rule for rewards is:

-- The reward should be timely.  Do it immediately.  This lets him know that you have noticed it and impressed.

--The reward should be connected to the performance.  Don't give rewards for mediocre performance.  Make them count.

--The reward should be based on the individual's motivator.  Learn what motivates each one of your followers.  It may be as simple as public recognition.

What tools are you providing to your followers that help equip them for higher and more effective performance?  

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