What do you think of as a leader? Is it an authority figure with a team of people working for them? Is a leader someone who takes charge and does it all themselves?
A leader guides and mentors others, listens instead of talking, and delegates instead of doing it themselves. Essentially, a leader is someone who empowers others to be great rather than trying to be great themselves.
Employees want information to flow up and down. They want to be partners, not subordinates. Unfortunately, many people believe that leadership is about control. Your employees know their roles, tasks and functions within an organization, and it’s up to you to empower them to be accountable and decisive.
The Importance of Empowering Employees
Empowering employees means giving your team members the freedom to take action and make decisions within the company. You have trust and understanding in place to ensure the actions are aligned with the company’s goals and objectives.
Many companies grow from the ground up with dedication and hard work, but full growth is achieved from multiple people working together harmoniously. Here are ways to spot strengths and empower employees.
Delegate for them, not you. While leaders know how to delegate effectively, it’s important to note that delegating isn’t just about reducing your own workload. Delegating strengthens and empowers your team to grow and take on new responsibilities.
Offer autonomy. Not everyone works the same way or uses the same methods and processes. When you delegate, you must accept that this may mean an employee will accomplish tasks different than you would. You need to relinquish control, avoid micromanaging and consider the results more than the process.
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Set expectations. Empowering your employees doesn’t mean you have to give up all control or that you’re leaving them completely to their own devices. You should define the boundaries for your employee and set clear expectations (without micromanaging). Give your employees permission to make decisions within these boundaries while also ensuring that those decisions will align with the overall goals and objectives.
Provide resources and feedback. One of the challenges for leaders when they first begin to empower employees is that they still need to deal with problems and obstacles for them. Instead of fixing every issue that comes along, offer tools and resources to help your employees succeed. You could also listen to ideas and provide guidance to help your employees reach their own decisions and solutions.
You should always offer thoughtful and specific feedback. Simply saying “Great job!” doesn’t help your employee learn or grow. Be specific about what’s working and what isn’t, as well as the impact on the team or the project, to help your employee develop their own skills and learn how to approach tasks in the future.
Communicate the company vision. Employees want to feel like they’re contributing to something greater rather than being a cog in the machine. When you communicate the vision of the company and how the team and employees contribute to that vision, you’re giving them a reason to put their best effort forward.
Grow employees to grow your company. Employees should be empowered to take initiative and grow their skills to solve problems, innovate and help the company succeed. While a company can grow and prosper under its leadership, sustainable, long-term growth comes from empowered employees.