Empowerment: Easier Said Than Done
I had a coaching session recently with a senior manager who has made tremendous strides in his leadership growth. New to having direct reports, he has been soaking up the coaching and training we have been offering like the proverbial sponge. To the point where he is now using the word “EMPOWERMENT” of his team as a regular part of his vocabulary. What warms my heart is how committed he is in wanting his team to feel a part of the process.
His challenge in truly empowering his team is one I notice over and over with many new to the leadership role. Like many new ( and some seasoned) managers in various organizations is the challenge in recognizing what is truly required to be in place for empowerment to ‘take”.
Faced with budgetary restrictions midst the need to meet very aggressive growth targets ( often boils down to squeezing ‘blood out of a stone’ to quote my mother) these managers are left with words to use to empower their direct reports without much actual physical resources to make this a reality. So they tend to either blame their direct reports for being slow in the uptake or flat out reverting to old styles of managing telling, threatening and/or coercion.
Two very important approaches are required and must be used to truly empower the team.
- The manager must be able to enable them to act
- The manager must be able to inspire them to share in the vision
Without the above two steps no endearing words of empowerment will get it to stick with the team. The team must feel and see the need for them to play an active role in the pursuit of the organization’s vision.
Four simple yet powerful ways to achieve true team empowerment:
- Ensure team members are appropriately trained and skilled in the work they are asked to deliver. This will require the manager to challenge organizational processes for cutting back training dollars. Make the case for why continuing education for all is a key component necessary for desired organizational growth.
- Develop a coaching-leadership style. This entails looking for every opportunity to develop the team to function to the best of their potential. Modeling the behaviour of using inquiry to grow people will rub off on your team members. They too will develop this important skill again necessary for organizational growth and success.
- Spend time with each of your team member. This allows you to get to know them individually and better understand strengths and blind spots. It’s the blind spots that derail many and if not addressed and coached will kill all desire for empowerment. The blind spots yours and your team members’- will shape the emotional reality of your team. This could be detrimental to achieving your goals for empowering your team.
- Be consistent. To truly empower another they must see and feel that you trust them. This requires consistency on the part of the manager in her interaction with the team. Asking them to play a collaborative role in how a project is executed this week but reverting to a dictatorial approach with them the following week erodes trust. The precursor to empowerment is trust both from the manager trusting their team members, the team members trusting themselves to them trusting their manager.
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