Dependent and empower followers is leadership at two different levels. The beginning level is where dependent followers thrive. That first step of leadership is creating followers that are dependent on guidance. The dependent follower is also at the start of their management and leadership journey. The first level leader and dependent follower complement each other, they both fulfill the needs of the other. The first level leader needs people that need them. They need to experiment together and grow. Many leaders do not graduate to the next level of leadership. Some of this is because they’re trying to move to the next level. They are most likely not even aware they are at the beginning level of leadership and are not deliberately trying to proceed to the higher levels.
The second level of leadership is where the leader begins to realize that dependent followers can be limiting. This second level of leadership can be evasive as well because a follower that is becoming a leader already will give the leader the illusion that they are in the second level of leadership, but it immediately disappears when this follower moves on to be their own leader. The second level of leadership is about removing the chains that keep the follower tied to the leader by empowering them. Cutting the chains and letting them make decisions, run operations, experiment in their own leadership capacity, and learn from mistakes.
What can stop a leader from moving to the second level? Many things, but mostly ego and pride! When a leader refuses to let go of power (regardless of the type of power) it traps them in the first level. The reasons are all the same. They aren’t ready to lead. I can’t trust them to do the right thing. More often than not, the problem is the leader. They want to feel important, and when you have empowered followers, they need you less and less. The crazy part is that is a great thing! Having followers that can perform at a high level because you trained and mentored them should be the goal. How much more time will you have to grow as a leader and develop better ways to improve your surroundings when you no longer have to always direct your subordinates every move?
My position in the organization is one of constant rotation. I am constantly faced with new managers and inexperienced managers. Or managers that have resigned themselves to be micromanagers because they have never known a leader than empowers followers. Once they trust me and know it isn’t a trick, they flourish like never before.