Equipping: 5 Steps to empower your team as a leader

February 10, 2021| Tags: business, leadership, mentoring


As the leader, we always want to get things done in the team. It is not just to tell people what do they need to do (e.g., bossing around, micromanaging, etc.). Even worse, taking the team’s tasks on your own will damage their growth as an individual, creativity, and motivation to contribute. Without giving them opportunity to uncover their potential, benefits for working in a team are diminished. According to John C. Maxwell, in the book ‘How Successful People Lead’, he described the best methods to help others do their jobs well: Equipping. It is called the five-step equipping process. Here, I illustrate the summary of these steps using ‘teaching someone to learn & play a piano’:

Step 1-I do it (competence)


It is the first step where you try to show them what you are capable of doing. It is pretty easy and straightforward that you take part in the things that need to finish. However, it feels like competition and might feel you put your ego in the first place. Don’t get it wrong! You are helping your team in taking down things-to-do. Before you lead or move to the next step (demonstration), you must understand it first at its best.

Step 2-I do it, and you are with me (demonstration)

two After you can do things alone, it is time to step up your game. The demonstration is an excellent way to help you understand more about something. While you’re demonstrating, you let them get into your world. Unconsciously, you raise the knowledge of your team to be at the same level as yours. Keep your communication open as they will not understand if you do it quietly.

Step 3-You do it, and I am with you (coaching)

duet This step is slightly more challenging, as you give them some trust to do things. They might not meet your expectation, and it might let you down. This step will test your patience as a leader. People make mistakes. Let them know where did they get it wrong, and let them experience and study it. Always keep in mind that as a great leader, you are the captain of your crews. Grow up your trust towards them, and you are ready for the next step.

Step 4-You do it (empowerment)

solo-performance As you cannot always be side-by-side with your team, you might want to give your 100% trust to them. By sharing your belief, you build confidence in your group. Confidence is the key to your success, their success, and the team’s success. They might feel that they’re well-trusted and keep it at a constant pace. Well, I’m afraid to say that you might not be able to proceed to the next step. Even though you trust and empower them, you still need to guide them at the back.

Step 5-You do it, and someone is with you (reproduction)

reproducibility It is the most challenging part where you build leadership skills for people you have taught before. This trust is not to get things done effectively, but to get things done efficiently. It grows your team’s productivity because you are not spending time teaching others repeatedly. In the best-case scenario, where one of your team can reach step 5, your team’s productivity will grow exponentially.


These steps are not linear, meaning you can use any steps, even after reaching Step 5. These steps are believed not only improving the team’s productivity, but also relationships in your team. This short article is a summary from ‘How Successful People Lead’ by John C. Maxwell, specifically Chapter: Best Behaviours on Level 4 ‘How to Develop People’. I found these equipping steps are relevant to my duties as a mentor of software engineering projects. I will share my story about mentorship in another article. By the way, what do you think about these equipping steps?

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