Should Leaders Enable Others Or Move Forward Themselves?

enabling others as a leader
Leaders choose carefully on enabled progress vs forward momentum.

In our journey through life, we often find ourselves at crossroads. These junctures force us to make decisions not only about our paths but also about the roles we play in the lives of others. A critical dilemma we face, especially in leadership or mentorship roles, is whether to enable others by clearing their way or to clear the way and move forward ourselves. This is not just a tactical decision but also a deeply psychological one that impacts our relationships, self-worth, and view of success. This article will delve deeper into these two perspectives, exploring the psychological depths and implications.

a. Enabling Someone by Clearing Their Way

The Philosophy of Enabling

Enabling is more than just assisting. It is empowering. When we allow someone, we provide them with the tools, resources, and environment they need to achieve their success. This approach is deeply rooted in the belief that everyone has the potential to succeed, but sometimes they need a helping hand to overcome obstacles.

The Psychological Depth

Empathy and Understanding:

Enabling others requires a deep sense of empathy. It's about understanding another person's journey, challenges, and what they need to move forward.

Sense of Fulfillment:

Watching someone you've enabled succeed can bring a profound sense of fulfillment. It's the joy of knowing you've played a role in their journey.

Building Trust:

You build trust by investing time and effort in clearing someone else's path. This trust can lead to stronger relationships and collaborations in the future.

Potential Pitfalls

However, like all things, there are potential pitfalls to this approach. Over-enabling can lead to dependency, where the person expects constant help and does not develop the skills or resilience needed to face challenges independently.

b. Clear the Way and Move Forward Yourself

The Philosophy of Self-Progression

Sometimes, the best way to lead is by example. By clearing the way and moving forward, you set a precedent, demonstrating what's possible. This approach is rooted in believing that action speaks louder than words and that progress is the best motivator.

The Psychological Depth


Moving forward boosts your confidence and belief in your abilities. It reinforces the idea that you can overcome challenges and achieve your goals.

Inspiration for Others:

When others see you surmount obstacles and move forward, it can inspire you. It shows them what's achievable, potentially motivating them to take action themselves.

Control and Autonomy:

By taking charge, you maintain control over the situation. This can be psychologically comforting, especially in uncertain cases.

Potential Pitfalls

However, this approach can also have drawbacks. By consistently taking the lead, others might feel overshadowed or believe they don't have a significant role. This can lead to feelings of redundancy or low self-worth among team members or peers.

Balancing the Two Approaches

In reality, life doesn't always present clear-cut scenarios. Often, the best approach lies somewhere in the middle. It's about knowing when to step in and enable others and when to take the lead and move forward. This balance requires a deep understanding of the situation, the people involved, and, most importantly, introspection into your motives and desires.

Psychological Considerations for Balancing:

Recognize Individual Needs: Understand that each person's journey and needs are unique. What works for one might not work for another.

Reflect on Your Intentions: Are you enabling others because you genuinely want to see them succeed, or are you doing it to feel needed? Similarly, are you moving forward for collective progress, or does ego drive it?

Open Communication: Engage in open dialogue with those around you. Understanding their perspectives can guide you in making the right decision.


The choice between enabling others and moving forward oneself is not just a tactical decision but a profoundly psychological one. It's intertwined with our beliefs, emotions, and perceptions of self-worth and success. By understanding the depths of each approach and introspecting on our motivations, we can make choices that lead to growth for ourselves and those around us.