Pass the ball.

Empowerment is defined as authority or power given to someone to do something; the process of becoming stronger and more confident.  Delegation is defined as distributing work or tasks to another person.  

Lately as I have reflected on vulnerability in leadership, I keep coming back to youth sports.  Perhaps because this is the season of life I am in at the moment.  

Pass the ball…

Passing the ball is a tough one for young athletes. There can be several reasons I won’t pass the ball.  I may not trust the skills or knowledge of my teammates,  maybe I think I can do it better, or I want the credit for the win or the points. Passing the ball means giving away full power over the next play and its results, which is the true definition of EMPOWERMENT.  Tough stuff for young athletes.  Even tougher stuff for us grown up leaders. 

Imagine the feelings of the teammate who was trusted with the pass.  Engagement, confidence, trust, and purpose.  I hope you have had the benefit of receiving a pass on the court, on the field, or in the office. We are more likely to retain team members who feel trusted, valued, and purposeful. 

Being a humble, vulnerable leader requires us to be skilled in effective passing.  Not the passing of work or tasks, the passing of power.  Where does vulnerability lie in passing the power, or empowerment? It lies in messages of trust and competence.  It lies in sharing the spotlight. It lies in the loud message of “It’s not about me.” 

When we entrust those we serve with power and authority, we are also saying we believe in cultures that value growth and risk taking.   When we pass the ball, we risk the one we passed it to missing the shot.  Vulnerable leaders seize these missed shots as opportunities to invest and reflect.  To invest in the player who missed, the dynamics of their team, and ultimately reflect on their pass. Was it a good pass?  Are my players set up successfully to take the pass?  

Vulnerable leaders recognize there are shots members of their team are just better at taking.  They pass with intent, confidence, and eagerness.  They stand ready to celebrate and support. 

Who knew?  Our leadership lessons started in 5 year old basketball practice. Thanks Coach. 

One thought on “Pass the ball.”

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