I was wandering through the maze of uber-moms hovering over their three year olds as I dropped my own three year old off at preschool and I saw one kid say hi to another kid. The first child made eye contact with the second child who said hi, smiled and nodded at him. The mom, quickly looked down at him and snapped "Did you say hi back?". The kid twitched a little and said "hi".
To say that we love control as modern adults is a vast understatement. We want to control everything, down to how our children interact in menial conversations. I would not say I am a hover parent, I am more of a pouncer. I'm off doing my thing and then I will pounce all over my kids for doing something.
One of the things I pounce on is if I think they are doing something wrong. I jump in, save the day and do it myself. I believe that is called enabling. But I don't enable because I love them or I'm covering for them. I enable because it puts me back in control. And it reenforces my control moving forward. A slightly useless person needs you to do things for them, and whenever you are necessary you are in the control position.
Any person in any company who is irreplaceable knows that power and it feels great.
Jon Stewart, previous host of the daily show and mentor to half of the employed comedians on television right now, was amazing at empowering people. He empowered multiple people to move beyond him, get their own shows, and then even get shows that were better than his (Steven Colbert with the Tonight Show).
The scary part about truly empowering somebody is that they may be better than you. We all say we should surround ourselves with smarter people than us, but do smarter people than us want to be surrounded by us?
How many people could you name in different circles of your life that you could confidently say are better than you? More importantly, how many people in different circles of your life are worse than you but you are willing to let them do it anyway?
Jon Stewart was famous for bringing in young comedians and putting them on the show within 48hrs of them joining the team. There was no way they were as good as he was. But he gave them the space and freedom to grow. And then one day he looked around the room and it was filled with amazingly talented people. And we all looked into that room and said "Must be nice".