Empowerment, not power is the key to great leadership

June 11th, 2019

A vital part of any leader’s role is empowering others to achieve great things. 

Traditionally leaders relied on power to generate results in the workplace. This type of leadership, we now know doesn’t inspire or motivate people. Instead, it inhibits growth and turns people into doers rather than thinkers.   

People under traditional leadership perform to instruction, doing what they are told and rarely questioning the outcome.  Their purpose is to get through the day as quickly as possible so they can go home. 

Empowerment enables and encourages people to become engaged in the purpose of their work.

Empowerment by contrast enables and encourages people to become engaged in the purpose of their work. Empowered people are motivated and inquiring and continually looking for innovative ways to make their work easier and smarter. 

Unfortunately, in spite of a growing awareness about engagement, too many leaders still struggle to let go of control. Perhaps they are afraid that without their direct involvement, things will fall apart. Yet these same leaders complain about having too many problems to solve along with a lack of initiative and commitment from their workforce.

These leaders haven’t understood the concept of empowerment. Empowerment doesn’t mean giving up personal power. Empowerment is about engaging the hearts and minds of people and inspiring them to find new or different ways to get better results.  

” They do because they want to, not because they have to”   

Most people want to do work that is meaningful and value adding. This only happens if they can be involved in the process and able to make meaningful contribution to something significant. Your actions as a leader will either encourage or discourage their involvement.

4 key actions for empowerment

Provide direction

 Share your vision in a way that everyone understands and can relate to. Be clear about what you want to achieve and what you expect to happen. People want the security of knowing where they are headed and how they can contribute.

Involve everyone

Great ideas and innovations can come from the most unexpected sources. Ask inquiring questions, listen with attention and give everyone in your team the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas. Every idea matters and no one should be discouraged from thinking of new and better ways of working. 

Equip and support

Equip everyonewith the knowledge, tools and resources they need to do a good job. Then allow them to get on with it. Give help to those who need it and trust those who don’t to get on and do the job to the best of their ability. Resist the temptation to micromanage, it undermines confidence, limits growth and destroys motivation and morale. 

Recognise and praise 

Most people want to know that they are doing a good job. Get into the habit of noticing and appreciating examples of best practice, positive behaviours and good thinking. Give recognition and praise for effort and contribution as well as achievement.

Are the people in your business empowered and motivated to continuously improve and grow the business??

When people are inspired and empowered to achieve something significant, they will generally go beyond what is expected to achieve even better results.

Jenny Johnson, CDI London Coach