I want to begin by defining empowerment so we can clearly establish what a leader is 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 a number of 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 coming to your office, but also you taking time to go their offices or areas of work.
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. Another means of empowering is to encourage them to subscribe to magazines and websites that will help with their self-improvement.
You can never show too much appreciation to those you lead. A common mistake leaders make is to wait for the annual evaluation or appreciation event to show their gratitude. 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.
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 they hold the opinion that the reason they are the leaders 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.
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. The sense of ownership that comes with being empowered followers encourages them to be more creative and responsible.
Have you been neglecting to empower those you lead? It’s not too late, you can start today. Start small, select one or two persons and become intentional about empowering them. Begin by focusing on the five suggestions highlighted above.
If you would like help in achieving your goals 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.