When I ask managers and directors to name the leaders of their company, most would be expected to point to themselves. They are the group who carry the formal, assigned responsibilities of leadership.
However, if you ask those same leaders to name people in the business with the biggest influence over culture or the greatest level of trust from fellow employees, qualities associated with leadership, the answers are often the same.
Most leaders appreciate the talent they have within their business, but often fail to empower people at every level of the company to really use their own leadership muscles. Yet the benefits of giving employees the opportunity to step up more as leaders has many benefits.
Below are the steps to take that will encourage empowerment within your business.
1. Connect your team to both the company’s vision and purpose
Business leaders have dealt with unprecedented challenges during the past few years as people are quitting their jobs at record levels. Companies are struggling to hold back the tide of employees leaving for new opportunities, particularly in the industries hit hardest by “The Great Resignation.”
It’s tempting to assume that simply increasing compensation will slow down the ‘Great Resignation’. However, time and again, studies have pointed to a wide variety of beneficial drivers of corporate culture that have nothing to do with pay. These include increasing trust between employees and management, treating all employees with respect and giving people the opportunity to use their skills and abilities at work.
When the leadership team empowers everyone at the company to lead from where they are, they are building or reinforcing many of these important behaviours. When people embrace the call to leadership, their understanding of culture will shift and they will begin considering how they can be the agents of change.
Your team will always find it much easier to make a difference in their work when they feel connected to the vision, purpose and values of the company.
2. Create expertise at all levels of your business
Companies must create a work environment where employees can be their best selves, and focusing on employee growth is one of the most important ways to accomplish this.
Naturally, a major barrier to helping everyone at your company build their careers is that there are never enough management positions to go around.
To solve this challenge, businesses need to decouple personal development from promotion.
Promoting someone can sometimes be detrimental to their development. Every business should help employees stretch and grow, but leaders often promote people away from where they have a disproportionately positive impact because we assume their talents will carry over. That’s not always the case.
When you empower people to lead from where they are, they can have the broadest possible benefit for your company. If your employees’ personal growth isn’t tied to their title, then you can create and maintain expertise across the business.
3. Eliminate silos
When businesses empower people to lead from where they are, they are opening the door to talents, abilities and ideas from all across the company. This open flow of information helps dissolve silos across the company, including directors.
Businesses must do a better job of encouraging their people to lead from where they are and apply those leadership skills to their work. Creating an open environment that empowers leaders everywhere will make employees feel more connected, keep experts where they can have their biggest impact and prevent departments from disappearing behind silos.