This month, our leadership journey takes us up yet another step on the leadership ladder. If you haven’t read my last blogs on leading yourself, leading within a team, and leading a team, please do so before you read this one; self-care, leadership within a team, and leading a team are foundational to other successful stages of leadership.

This stage of my leadership journey is what John Maxwell would call a “Leadershift.” Why? Because I had to make a drastic shift in how I led other leaders. I knew I could not lead other leaders in the same way as individual contributors, and so through trial and error, I discovered a process I now share with you. To effectively lead leaders of teams, you must engageequipencourage, and empower them to succeed.  


In his epic work, Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” So, if you want a starting point for effectively leading leaders of teams, learn their name, and ENGAGE them. Get to know who they are and use what we at Solutions 21 call the “Platinum Rule,” which says to treat others how they want to be treated. Influence comes by building trust—you build trust by getting to know your subordinate leaders. Get to know everything they are willing to tell you. 

Being a fully engaged leader in the good times and bad will cause your influence to grow with them. Engage them in both personal and professional matters so that you know what sets their souls on fire or what frustrates them the most. One way to effectively engage your leaders is to help them develop a personal vision statement, which is a key behavior of world-class performers. Seek to understand their future hopes and dreams so that you can then EQUIP them to achieve those dreams.  


A mistake I see leaders make is to sit down with subordinate leaders and start “equipping” them before they engage and get to know who they are. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, engage them well so you are precise in your equipping. 

Equipping can be done in many forms. It is essential to get buy-in from your subordinate leaders on what they want. Remember the Platinum Rule? Have you gone through a personal SWOT Analysis to determine their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats? Is there a specific personality assessment they have or can take to help you better understand their behavioral traits? 

These assessments can help both you and the subordinate leader understand who they are, their behaviors, and how to understand others on their team for greater effectiveness. Do they have clarity with their top core values? 

What key SMART goals do they want to accomplish in the next 3, 6, or 12 months? All these factors and a personal vision statement can help you equip the subordinate leader to develop a Measurable Action Plan (MAP) for leading their team effectively.


Up to this point, you have engaged and equipped your leaders.

Now, it’s time to provide more “wood for the fire” on their leadership journey. To encourage your subordinates, seek to understand human behavior–their specific human behavior. At Solutions 21, we utilize Wiley’s DiSC profile to understand the motivators of each person and how to enable them. We also seek to understand each person’s “fears” according to their behavior and how not to trigger those fears. 

How well do you understand your subordinate leaders? How do you know what motivates and triggers them? To effectively encourage leaders, seek to understand them in their “language” of behaviors.  All conditions are now set for your leader’s successful “launch” with their team. All they need now is your empowerment!


Throughout my decades of leadership experience, I have come to know that I cannot empower as a leader until I have equipped and encouraged my subordinates. These steps must be done sequentially at first, or else disaster will strike when you try to empower before properly equipping any leader.

Empowerment is a noun meaning “the authority or power given to someone to do something.”

When have you sat down with your subordinate leaders with their personal vision, SWOT analysis, and MAP and clearly articulated how you will empower them?  What authorities will you provide to succeed in the roles they have with the team they have? 

Effective empowerment has no leash, but it does have broad boundaries that foster disciplined initiative from within.  If your subordinate leaders have a team or teams, do they have the empowerment to fully exercise the roles, responsibilities, and authorities you expect them to discharge? Does your leadership fuel their passions or put out their fires? 

The late mentor to the masters in business, Jim Rohn, once said, “One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is the gift of attention.” So, how do you engage your leaders consistently? What tools can you utilize to equip your leaders properly? How will you encourage each one and then release them with proper authorities to succeed in their charges? If you don’t know, the process outlined above can get you started.