Effectively Empowering People

Have you ever found yourself in the situation as a leader where your people have asked to be more empowered, so you empower them as asked, but they don’t pick up the ball on the task they were empowered to do.  So naturally, you take the task back and do it yourself.  Now you as the leader are frustrated because you did exactly what the employee asked of you and it didn’t happen.  Understand, that the disconnect with your empowering efforts may rest with you, and not the employee you think you empowered.

Empowerment is a huge word with a meaning larger than a simple task.  If you as a leader want to be successful at empowering your people, start with empowering empowerment itself at the culture level.  In other words, make sure the culture is empowering because a culture can pull the rug right out from underneath an empowered task.  Then empower the big three; trust, communication, and accountability.  If these critical values are not empowered, employees are not able to take on the empowerment you as the leader thought you were delegating to them.  Nor is the employee empowered to perform the task they have been empowered to do.

In the spirit of understanding what it takes to be more effective an empowering people, gather your team for an “empowerment meeting”, and ask these questions to level set an understanding of what empowerment looks like at the highest level:

  1. If the most fundamental level of your teams were currently demonstrating empowerment, what would change? (stay very vague to hear where the conversation goes).  How would today or right now be different?  What would you be doing instead?
  2. What is empowerment? (ask individually but in the group)
  3. What is your role the team leader, in empowerment? (ask individually but in the group)
  4. What are your beliefs on empowerment here at the organization?
  5. Is there a difference between general empowerment and specific empowerment?
  • General meaning empowered to ask questions, offer ideas.
  • Specific meaning decision making authority on mock ups, lay outs, vendor management.
  1. What expectations are intimately connected to empowerment?
  2. What attitudes foster or inhibit empowerment relating to how the team views it?

(For the complete list of team questions, contact The Employers Edge at theemployersedge.com)

To be successful with your leadership expectations of empowering your people, start by empowering at the highest level.  Then empower values followed by tasks.  Help the team understand if they empower a task in the absence of an environment that makes empowerment possible, get ready to be frustrated.  If you empower your people to fly a kite, then by all means give them the wind necessary for the kite to take flight.  That wind comes in the form of trust, communication, and accountability.  Start there, and you will find your leadership to be empowering.