Leadership Is About Sanctioning Others
The deliberate commitment to empower people is at the core of great leaders. Very few things raise the self-worth and free up the dedication and engagement of members of a leaders team than enabling the realization of potential.
Make absolutely no mistake here…to become a great leader means releasing the capacity and potential of those you lead. This is referred to as “to capacitate” someone. That is to say, you enable them, you sanction there position and contribution and enable them to contribute and grow for the benefit of all concerned. That is the essence of empowerment.
Why a Leaders Empowers People
While working in my Scoopit account, I came across a fasinating article by Bill George, Senior Fellow, Harvard Business School. This is a must read…
Are You an Empowering Leader “There was a time when leaders thought their role was to exert power over others. No longer. Today’s best leaders — people like Ford’s Alan Mulally, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and Google’s Larry Page — recognize their leadership is most effective when they empower others to step up and lead. That’s exactly what the new generation of Gen X and Millennials expect from their leaders, and they respond with great performance.”
People Centric Leadership
You can’t force people to become devoted followers because they are your employees. People will choose to truly follow the leader when that commitment is earned. When someone rises to a position of true leadership it may be assumed that they will lead and people will follow. This is often not the case. The people oriented leadership approach to leading means placing the importance on elevating the team members not in how the leader is elevated.
The more a person feels they have reasonable freedom to carry out their responsibilities the better. In a recent article by Dr. Travis Bradberry, he shared on Linkedin that…”The more freedom someone has, the more accountable they feel. Freedom and accountability go hand-in-hand at remote companies, and this connection is powerful.”
The combined concepts of “freedom and accountability” are no mutually exclusive. When people are empowered around them they are in the best position to help the company grow and reach it’s mission. Given the opportunity, a well-trained employee can concentrate their time and energy on the goals and objectives that support the mission because they are trusted to do so.
Photo By Una Laurenci / CCO
The Step-up Aspect of Empowerment
One key concept here is asking a person to “step-up.” There is so much power in that simple idea. What is required for a manager to ask someone to step up and the employee stepping up? There is a very integrated set of factors at work here.
- The employee must have the training and preferably some experience at executing the task being assigned.
- The purpose for the assignment and how it fits into the project or work product must be clear.
- The employee should be the best available person to complete the task at hand.
- The manager has enough knowledge and experience with the employee to have every confidence that this is the right person for the job.
- The employee clearly perceives the managers confidence in their ability to complete the assignment successfully.
Realistically, it is not always possible to have every employee completely trained for every assignment. Some employees are new and training is a work in progress. It may be that a given employee has struggled with this type of task, or in some cases may be under a performance review for work issues. It may be that with the inexperienced person the manager can use the assigned mentor or create a task specific mentor for this project. Again, it is a matter of asking the best available employee to step up to an important assignment.
We are talking about tasks or assignment of more than routine importance and perhaps mission critical in some cases. This type of delegation must be communicated in a crystal clear fashion. The specific purpose of the task, how it fits into the project or business unit success and definitely the who, what, when and why of carrying out the work.
The manager with a seasoned team and experienced employee being asked to step up to an important task in in a good position to for success. The manager with time tested familiarity with the employee and their capabilities will have the edge on execution. This seems obvious but what is not always so clear is how the manager and employee get in this position of delegation confidence. It isn’t just the time in grade factor.
Employees know when a manager does not believe in them.
The top performing managers make a consistent and focused effort to build a relationship with each employee. They understand their strengths, their ambitions, there performance under stress and the level of training and experience. Knowing their goals and objectives for their career and their family are included in the managers employee knowledge level.
In a recent survey by for Harvard Business review of over 19,000 people at all levels of responsibility, four key conditions for employee satisfaction were measured. The survey data showed some amazing results for employee satisfaction. Employees working for a company who felt that at least one of four survey tested needs were met reported a “30 % higher capacity to focus” and an astounding “63% greater likelihood to stay” with their employer! Read more here> HBR Survey.
This solid trusting relationship instills a sense of self-worth and belief by the employee that their manager has trust and confidence in their abilities. The power of this set of circumstances between the can not be over-emphasized. It is the essence of superior management and outstanding results.
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