In this highly technologically advanced world, today’s leaders continue to be asked to produce more in a shorter amount of time and with fewer resources. How can leaders rise to the challenge? The key is for leaders to empower their followers. When leaders empower those around them, they are unleashing the power of creativity… and yes, productivity. How is this possible? The essence of empowering others is to trust that they will get the task done without you having to look over their shoulder. They should know that they can
come to you when, and if, they need help. When leaders empower others, they create a win-win situation. The leader no longer has to run the organization alone, being free to do more important tasks. Followers, when empowered, become more motivated. The result: they produce more quality work, also completing more important tasks. In order to learn how to empower others, here are four steps:
1. Be objective-do not let personal biases get in the way of clearly assessing followers’ strengths and weaknesses. By doing this, you can determine how to maximize each person’s potential by finding their best fit in the organization. It’s a win-win situation; the individual, as well as the organization, benefits immensely.
2. Delegate effectively– many leaders struggle with delegation. Some refuse to delegate and others delegate ineffectively by only delegating the mundane tasks and leaving the “important” tasks for themselves (Avolio & Bass, 1994). Leaders who delegate ineffectively send a clear message to their followers; “I do not trust you, I do not think you are capable”. If you want to demoralize your followers and decrease quality of work and productivity, the former message will surely do the trick. In order to effectively delegate, you have to trust the members of your organization and believe that the task will get done. It might not necessarily get done your way, but what is important is that the job gets done, not how it’s done. You will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The key here is to delegate tasks that will push people out of their comfort zone while still delegating tasks within their capabilities. This will be setting them up for success! It is important for leaders to know their people and objectively assess their capabilities. As George Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
3. Resources and tools–One of the most important jobs of a leader is to provide the resources and tools for their followers to succeed. It is not enough to assess their capabilities objectively and delegate effectively. You, as a leader, need to give them the resources, tools, and authority to succeed.
4. Celebrate their success–People like to be recognized for their efforts. Make sure you let your followers know you appreciate their efforts and how their contributions have positively affected the organization. Let them know that you believe in them and that you cannot wait to see what other amazing things they will accomplish.
Empowering people is a win-win situation for the leader, the follower and the organization as a whole. When people feel empowered, they look forward to coming to work and giving their all. They feel energized, have increased ownership and are motivated. When people feel good about coming to work, they tend to want to stay with the organization. Leaders contribute to the retention of good quality workers and can help the organization save millions of dollars by minimizing employee turnover. Therefore, as a leader, be objective, delegate effectively, provide your employees with the resources and tools they need, and celebrate their success. Increased productivity will be the inevitable result of your efforts!
Avolio, B. M. (1994). Improving Organizational Effectiveness through transformational leadership. California: Sage Publications.