As mentioned above, the "why" of empowering your people is one thing, but what about the "how"? How can you empower the people you lead in a practical way? We have identified 4 ways to empower. As you read them, consider how you can put these into action for your team.
1. Manage Your Power and Influence
Power itself is not bad or good; it is how a person chooses to use it. Power is a necessary component of leadership because leaders are moving toward something—they are producing effects. Power is necessary to move people forward, to enforce necessary vision, to instigate change and to influence others. And it is the leader’s responsibility to choose to use power in a way that multiplies potential and impact.
Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to have an effect on someone’s character, development or behavior. Influence runs deeper than power. Power is an external force that is often derived from a position of authority. Influence is earned. People give their leaders the right to influence them when they place their trust in them. The key to successful leadership is to get people to a place where they willingly follow you and go where you lead, not just to obey orders. It is the difference between someone obeying out of fear or obligation vs. someone who does something because they believe it is the right thing to do.
|Given by or taken from others in authority
||Earned by practicing trust
|Comes from position of authority
||Granted by the people you lead
|Affects a person’s external actions
||Affects a person’s internal motivations
|People obey you
||People believe and follow you
A big part of empowering people is in motivating them and building their confidence. As a leader, your job is to motivate people to use their strengths
and abilities to impact your organization through clear purpose. So how can we motivate?
- Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful. Communicate how their work has an impact on the mission of your organization and be specific.
Take the time for individual interaction.
- Effectively communicate and share information so they can take on learning, ownership and innovation on their own.
- Get ongoing input from employees and involve them in the decision making process.
- Fire people when needed. This may sound harsh, but having negative people who are passive aggressive, and who pull down the team’s efforts hurt morale.
Even the most positive people can be de-motivated by negative people if that negativity is allowed to continue.
- Challenge people to rise to the occasion. Involve them in problem-solving. This kind of creativity can be very motivating as it bonds people together
for a common cause.
-Build their confidence through refraining from second guessing their work and decisions unless necessary, encouraging them to take risk and responsibility by having their back if things don’t go well. In other words, expect mistakes. This is part of the process and critical to learning.
3. Be an Encourager, Not a Discourager
||Liberate people through an encouraging environment that
promotes people’s best thinking and work
||Challenge people to stretch in their thinking and work
|Suppress open and creative thinking
||Promote productive debate so the best possible decisions are made
|Have to "know more"
||Help people take ownership of results and invest in these people’s success
|Make linear decisions with nuclear reasons
||Ask more questions, voice their opinion sparingly and really listen and care
about what is said
Be an encourager, not a discourager—your effective leadership depends on it!
4. Manage Performance
Managing performance requires a balance between compassion and accountability. If we manage people well, we manage performance well too. Remember, performance management is about people. It's not about systems or processes or rules.
- Clearly articulate workplace and performance expectations. Explain them, make sure they are clarified, and then make sure you agree on them. If you are just telling, you don’t get buy in and the person you are working with will not perform well according to your expectations. Both of you lose.
- Ask for the performance you want based on their strengths. You cannot assume that employees know what you expect. Employees are often demotivated by a lack of clear expectations. If their leader does not give them a clear picture of what is expected of them then they don’t know what they are working toward, nor do they understand how to judge their success.
- Acknowledge good performance by reinforcing good behaviors and actions.
- Prepare for and deliver performance appraisals. But don’t wait for the end of the year to tell people how they are doing and give feed back. No one should enter into a performance appraisal not knowing what it will say.
- Model the behaviors and actions you expect of others. People will be more motivated to step into roles if they see you modeling that type of behavior.