Enabling Vs Empowering

Enabling Vs Empowering

A guest post from Leslie Weaver
I stood at the front of the dorm my freshman year of college and watched my parents pull away with an empty U-haul trailer. It was time to embark on a new journey in life. I can reflect back and see how my parents equipped me to succeed. The journey began years ago for my parents dropped me off at college. They knew there would be a day where I had to step out on my own, where I had to make my own decisions, where I had to figure out life. They had made the decision to equip and empower me so I could succeed when this day arrived. This was that day; it was finally here. They were dropping off their youngest child and headed home to another state 12 hours away.

Lately, I have been pondering the idea of enabling versus empowering. Enabling is being a crutch to someone. It is not allowing someone to make decisions on their own. When you enable someone that person is not able to make decisions on their own. It is a vicious cycle that falls apart when you remove the crutch. When you enable someone the enabler holds the power.

Empowering someone is transferring the power to the other person. It is letting them make and execute their decisions with guidance and accountability. Empowering someone is believing in their abilities. Empowering someone helps build confidence. Empowering someone helps build trust. Empowering someone helps build committed team players.

As a leader, I experience the decision to enable or empower employees on a regular basis. When I get frustrated about an employee not doing something, I have to ask myself the hard question, “Did I enable them?” Empowering someone is not easy. You have to stop yourself from doing the work. Many times you just do; you know you can do the work, it will be done correctly, and done quickly. You have to ask yourself, what am I teaching the person if I do this task? Is it worth taking the time to teach the employee how to do this task correctly? Could I teach them so they can complete the task on their own next time? So I ask you, to think before you do. Stop and ask, am I enabling or empowering?


An inspiring leader are words employees use to describe Leslie Weaver. As an established leader in the non-profit, ministry, and educational realms Leslie has used her experience to teach others to grow in their leadership, mentor others, and give back.  She lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband Terry and their miniature schnauzer Walt.

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