One of the keys to effective leadership is to empower the people that you lead. In a growing organization empowerment is a must, otherwise the leader becomes a bottleneck or a barrier within the organization. If the leader continues to block people instead build people, the people, especially the leaders will begin to leave. If you want to be a successful leader, you need to learn to empower people instead of trying to control people. I love this quote from Theodore Roosevelt “the best executive is one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Empowering people is hard work, it takes a lot of self-restraint to not get involved with things when people want to do things a little different than what you would do.
Leaders that empower are able to lift people up. They work hard to add value to people and develop people and then empower them to do what they are asked to do. This is a skill set that can take some time to develop, but if you can do this well you will grow your organization in a healthy way. So how do you empower people?
- Believe the best about your people – This can be the hardest part if you are naturally skeptical about people. If you find it hard to believe the best about people you might need to deal with your own insecurities and past hurts in order to move forward as a leader. Sure there have been people that have let you down and hurt you, but that does not mean that the next person will do that. It all starts with trusting that the people you are leading have huge potential.
- By believing in people you build their self-esteem – The greatest leaders draw out the best in the people they lead. Many times the people you are leading don’t realize what they are capable of doing. As the leader it is your responsibility to know the strengths and weaknesses of your team and place people where they can use their strengths on a regular basis. Once they are in that right place you can empower them by giving them authority to make decisions without having to always check in with you.
- Keep growing yourself – A leader that is not growing will not empower others. The more you grow the more you can give away. Personal growth helps you to become more secure as as a leader and allows you to be able to invest more in the people you lead. Leaders that are teachable and humble realize they don’t know it all and are willing to allow others to contribute to the team.
- Endorse people in public – To empower people it is necessary for others to know that you are endorsing them and believe in them. Give them praise in public and let others know that they have authority. Bring to light their strengths and acknowledge their contribution to the team. When they make mistakes talk to them in private and coach them to learn and improve.
- Invest in people – What I mean by that is you must do more than believe in someone in order to empower them. You need to take steps to help them become the leaders they have the potential to be. This requires your energy and time. Spend time pouring what you know into them and by learning about what makes them tick. This can be done one-on-one and in groups. I often do book studies with people that have potential. I also meet with people one-on-one to get to know them and to let them get to know me. Another way I invest in people is by giving them tests. I give them a project to work on and see how they do with it. As I get to know the person I can quickly determine if they are in the right place on the team and how much I can trust them. The more potential someone has, the more time I give them, not micro-managing them, but listening, encouraging and coaching them.
- Lastly, be clear – It is vital that the people you empower know the outcome you are looking for. The method they use may be different that you would take, but the outcome is what you are concerned with. Establishing clear Key Results Areas or Objectives is vital to healthy empowerment. It means putting it in writing and then reviewing it with them along the way. If you take the time upfront to establish clear direction and objectives it empowers the person to focus on what is important.
So who do you need to empower? Who do you need to believe the best about? What is your plan to grow yourself? Do you have a plan to develop others? Who do you need to spend more time with? What can you give away? Are you clear about what you want to accomplish as an organization?