There is a difference between managers who delegate and leaders who empower. Managers who delegate often give their employees or the people that they lead a task without much direction. Leaders who empower have worked alongside those that they lead and have shown them the right and wrong ways to do things. Leaders that empower have walked through different scenarios that could arise and the best way to deal with them. Once a leader believes that a person they lead is ready then they begin to empower them to handle situations, to make decisions, and accomplish tasks because they believe that the person is ready. The leader will then check in with the person and stay updated on what is happening. A manager will delegate a task, then wait and see if the individual handled it or not.

In the book of 2 Kings chapter 4 of the Bible, we read that there was a famine in the region of Gilgal where a man named Elisha lived. He was holding a meeting with other religious leaders when as happens when you get a group of people together, they got hungry. Elisha tells one of his servants to “Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these prophets.” Seems like a pretty simple direction, right? “Put on the large pot… cook some stew”, doesn’t sound very difficult.
As we read on we see that the servant goes out to gather herbs for the stew. He finds a “wild vine” and begins to pick “as many of its gourds as his garment could hold”. When he retuned, he cut the pieces up into the pot of stew. The servants poured up the stew for the men to eat. As they begin to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” The Bible records that no one could eat it.

Let’s give Elisha the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Elisha had lead his servant, had walked alongside him and had taught him the correct way to do things and trusted him to make it happen and to make the right decisions, but even if that’s the case, Elisha missed on a key step. Elisha never checked in with his servant to see if he really did what needed to be done and if he had done it the right way before serving these guys the stew. Yes it was the servant’s fault, yes the servant made a horrible decision and cooked up a meal that wasn’t just bad, it was deadly, but I would say that more than the servant’s fault, it was Elisha’s fault because Elisha managed this task and did not lead his servant in this task.

It’s always easier to manage than lead. It always takes less time to manage than to lead. The results are always worse when you manage than when you lead. Those you lead will always be better, and more empowered when you lead them than when you manage them. Take the extra time, teach those you lead, build trust, empower them, check in with them, and then watch the results soar. Don’t serve up death in your pot of management.

Copyright Michael Cleveland 2014 Up