Friday, July 16, 2010

Be an Enabler

As many of you know, I began a new job, and a new adventure, here in Kabul last week. The first several days have been a whirlwind of presentations and introductions and a quest to understand what it is that we do here. Once I can get my arms around that (no easy task in this multi-billion dollar enterprise), I can find purpose and add value to my team.

What I'm reminding myself every day is that so much of the role of leaders is as enablers. In fact, as I learn the elements of my new position, I think the role of "Chief Enabler" is most important. I find myself using this word over and over to define what I do. I don't do construction (be thankful!) -- I enable it. I don't (and can't) do what these great people do. But I can sure enable their success. Here's how defines this powerful word:

1. to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize: This document will enable him to pass through the enemy lines unmolested. The "Chief Enabler" empowers people with the competence and confidence to accomplish their mission. Again, in leadership positions, we usually can't do what our teammates are in position to do...but we can sure help make them able to do it.

2. to make possible or easy: Aeronautics enables us to overcome great distances. So much of leadership is clearing obstacles that inhibit progress. Whether it be inefficient processes, lack of clarity, or disunity among team members, leaders can certainly help make the difficult -- easy or the impossible -- possible. "Chief Enablers" find gaps and fill them, create order out of chaos, and remove anything that prevents success.

3. to make ready; equip (often used in combination): Web-enabled cell phones. So much of leadership is providing people with the skills and tools they need to do their jobs. When we've hired well (as is certainly the case on my new team), it often comes down to giving people what they require -- and getting out of the way! Providing the equipment, resources, or sometimes just the clarity of purpose, or the context of the mission, is all great people need to do great things.

I may not know much in my new position, but I'm learning fast. I want my team to do well and I want to be a part of their success. So as I learn what they do, I'm trying to find ways to help them do it. That's the role of "Chief Enabler." That's Leader Business.

1 comment:

Aridog said...

Col Magness said: " often comes down to giving people what they require -- and getting out of the way!"

It's minutia, but do you recall me telling you to do precisely that, out of frustration, in your first week in our District?

Probably not, it was a very minor matter, but when you didn't tear my head off I knew I had a winner for a boss.

And you got what you sought shortly thereafter.