Monday, August 31, 2015

Empowering Your People

What makes the difference in a team player and a water-boy.  There are so many different leadership styles that I will not take the time to discuss them all here today.  But, any good style of leadership is going to have some key ingredients that makes it successful. One of those ingredients is the level of empowerment that a leader gives to his or her people.

Empowerment can be tricky in the respect that the leader has a specific direction that he is trying to take the organization, and there are many different personality styles to get it there.  Let's talk about the opposite style first so we have something to compare.  Lack of empowerment in a leader is one that dictates tasks to his people and everyone is a slave to the task list of the Leader.  There is no original thought or idea.  Sharing it is just a list to be completed.  This might be the case if you are dealing with support staff only, but if you have true players on the field they are going to want to contribute and execute.

Empowerment is a culture that is built over time.  It is not just decision making.  Here are a few ways you can begin to build a culture of empowerment with your people.

  1. Spend a lot of time sharing and refining your vision with your team.  Everyone must be headed in the same direction. If this is not the case, you as the leader will be frustrated when people are moving in a different direction.  Empowerment in this environment is dangerous to the overall vision of the organization. 
  2. Have brainstorming sessions before the tasks are given out. Once everyone is comfortable and in agreement with the vision, the team can start building a road map of how to get there.  As the leader, you might have a general idea of how to get there, but you must be flexible in the brainstorming meeting as others will think of things that you did not. 
  3. You don't have to be the smartest person in the room.  Be O.K. with the fact that you have gathered an excellent team to get the job done. Just because someone can throw a touchdown pass doesn't threaten the job of the coach.  It just makes the coach look good. 
  4. Give feedback to the team.  Empowerment without assessment comes across as unconcern. Communication is key here!  People can't read your mind and they want to know if in fact they are moving in the right direction.  The more reassurance the leader gives, the more decisive the team can be.  If the team is unsure if they are accomplishing the goals, they will stop making proactive decisions and begin to wait on instruction.  
  5. Celebrate the successes!   To do so, success must be clearly defined.  What are the milestones in the journey?  When those milestones are reached there must be celebration.  Without celebration the milestones seem unimportant and therefore the work that went into achieving it also seems unimportant. There is plenty of time to hit the next milestone so don't miss the celebration along the way. 
I have a saying with my teams: "Together we can do more."  Empowerment is true leadership.  In the next entry we will see some examples of how Jesus empowered his disciples.

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