In this new novel coronavirus environment, one of the challenges many leaders face is how to empower their people to work effectively and efficiently. For many, working from home has become the norm. That means you as the leader are not physically present with them, so you are not sure how effective they are being.
I believe if you come up with ways to empower your team, you will be as successful if not even more successful than pre-coronavirus.
I want to begin by defining empowerment so we can clearly establish what you are trying to achieve when intentionally empowering followers.
“Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision-making about her job in autonomous, independent, self-directed ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of your own destiny.” (Susan M. Heathfield)
With this definition in mind, I want to suggest several actions a leader can take to help empower followers.
Foster Open Communication
Good communication is important to empowering your followers. They need to know what the lines of communication are, and that they have access to you as their leader. This access should not only be them reaching out to you for clarification and direction, but also you taking time to check in with them on how work is going, and more importantly, how they are doing. In these days of working from home and isolating, people need to know you care about them as much if not more than the work they are doing for you.
Offer Opportunity for Self-Improvement
Empowering your followers includes offering opportunities for self-improvement. If it is financially viable, set aside a budget for this purpose. Give those you lead opportunities to attend seminars, workshops, conferences, etc. They are in abundance online. Ask them what they think will help them to grow and improve personally and professionally and invest them.
You can never show too much appreciation to those you lead. A common mistake leaders make is to wait for the annual appreciation event to show their appreciation. Develop the habit of showing appreciation regularly throughout the year. Also don’t wait for something good to happen before showing appreciation. While that is good, it is far more effective to let your followers know that they are appreciated just for being part of the team and for the contributions they make to the organization. Remember members of you team are making all sorts of personal sacrifices to adjust to this new normal. Don’t forget to show appreciation.
Give Clear Job Descriptions
Some leaders don’t think of this as empowerment. But when those you lead have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, including the authority they have along with the responsibilities, you will be empowering them to function effectively and efficiently in their role. When those you lead are left to figure out who they are responsible to, or what authority they have in the position they hold, they will have the tendency to become discouraged rather than empowered.
Listen and Learn from Your Followers
This might be one of the most challenging aspects of empowering for some leaders, primarily because some leaders hold the opinion that the reason they are the leader is because they know more than those they are leading. That kind of thinking is a recipe for leadership failure. No one wants to follow a “know it all” leader.
Learn to be a good listener. I discussed how to be a good listener in a previous blog post. Listening to and learning from those you lead will go a long way toward empowering them. When you listen to and show that you want to learn from those you lead, they will feel respected, appreciated and valued. And you will be surprised how much they have to offer when given a chance to share their opinions.
Empowering those you lead is a critical component to unlocking the best in others. When people feel empowered to fully engage and take responsibility for what they are doing, they will usually give their best. Because of the sense of ownership that comes with being empowered, followers become more creative and responsible.
In this novel coronavirus working arrangement, it is imperative you empower your people so they can be effective and efficient in this new reality of working from home. And you as a leader can be confident you are getting the best from your team.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.