To be a great leader, you must learn to empower your people. Anytime you see a poorly run business or receive poor service, empowerment is often the missing ingredient. Anytime you see a really well-run business, that’s very likely the secret to their success.
To me, empowerment means “feeling confident in your ability, and encouraged by your circumstances, such that you feel motivated and at liberty to fully devote your talents to a purpose.”
Most leaders acknowledge that this quality will lead to happier, more motivated employees, and therefore improved business results, but they don’t know how to create empowerment. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Connect with your team
People feel most encouraged when in the presence of someone who appreciates them, supports them, and is committed to helping them be the very best version of themselves. For that reason, the first step to empowering your people is connecting with them.
These actions send a clear message: I see you, I hear you, and I care about you. Connection is easy to recognise but hard to define. It is something you can just feel. The feeling is warm, feels inclusive, and safe.
Few things are more discouraging than spending hours of your life on meaningless work, while not many things are more encouraging than having a real, meaningful impact. So a key part of empowering your team is inspiring them with a vision.
To be inspiring, a vision has to be worthy of a person’s effort. It must be more than something that the leader wants to accomplish for themselves. The vision has to be something that, once achieved, makes a real difference in the life of the person being asked to achieve it.
Inspiring someone requires more than merely sharing the vision. It requires explaining how a person fits into the vision, how it will affect them, and how achieving it will help them to advance a part of their life that is important to them.
To be empowered, your team must feel confident in what they are doing, and they must understand how they fit into the overall team. You can instil confidence in two major ways.
First, acknowledge great work. If you don’t tell your people when they are doing things well, how are they supposed to grow confident in their abilities? Second, seek to challenge your team with new tasks and trust them to take more and more responsibility. People thrive on being challenged and being entrusted with more.
Teach them to make each other better
Having an empowered culture means everyone shares this feeling. Creating such a culture is difficult if one leader has to do it all by themselves. You must teach every team membe how to make the people around them better.
To accomplish this, teach each person how rewarding it is to help others and how, by doing so, they become an even more indispensable part of the team. The best way to do this is to identify what people’s strengths are and then challenge them to teach their strengths to others.
Communicate what’s going on
As a leader, sharing with your team what is going on in the workplace means making sure no one ever has the feeling of being left out. But it’s more than that. When people are empowered, they feel like they are a critical part of the business. They feel like an owner.
It is essential to treat your people like owners, so they will feel and act like owners. This means letting them know every major development – why we’re hiring, what other changes they can expect, and any other subjects that may affect the workplace.
"...empowerment means feeling confident in your ability, and encouraged by your circumstances, such that you feel motivated and at liberty to fully devote your talents to a purpose.”