[fusion_text]We often think of influence as an intervening act; in other words, we need to tell, direct or guide you to the desired outcome. Yet, much more subtly, one of the best ways to influence peers is to empower them.
Empowerment is the leadership practice of sharing information, rewards, and power with team members so that they can take the initiative to make decisions and solve problems without your direct instruction.
People are empowered when you give them the skills, resources, authority, opportunity and motivation to act. You also need to hold them responsible and accountable for the outcomes of their actions.
Be careful not think about empowerment as something that a leader bestows on people. Instead, it is a philosophy and a strategy to help others develop talents, skills and competencies in decision making and producing results. This helps team members feel capable, and successful. That said it’s not an easy process to implement as a leader and it may take some time, so the following tips may help you get started!
*Demonstrate That You Value People*
Your regard for people comes out in everything you do and say – through actions and words. Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person’s unique value.
*Share Leadership Vision*
Help people feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual roles – give them access to organisational mission, vision, and strategic plans. Better still – include team members in whatever planning your organisation undertakes and seek their input on the overall plan. Give them ownership!
*Share Goals and Direction*
As we have already discussed, the involvement of team members in goal setting, prioritisation and planning adds value, knowledge, ideas, insight and experience. If you share a picture and share meaning, you have agreed on what constitutes a successful and acceptable deliverable. Empowered team members can then chart their own course without close supervision.
Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decisions, and make choices that work. When team members receive clear expectations from you, they relax and trust you.
*Provide Information for Decision Making*
Make certain that you have given people access to all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions.
*Delegate Authority, Not Just More Work*
Don’t just delegate the boring, drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff too, like attendance at important meetings, or places on influential committee or projects that people notice.
*Provide Frequent Feedback*
Provide frequent feedback so that people stay on track and can continue to develop knowledge and skills.
*Solve Problems: Don’t Pinpoint Problem People*
When a problem arises, ask what is wrong with the system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people. The absolute worst case response to problems is to seek to identify and punish the guilty.
*Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance*
Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. When a team member brings you a problem to solve, ask, “What do you think you should do to solve this problem?” Or, ask, “What action steps do you recommend?” Eventually, you will feel comfortable trusting their judgment.
*And, Help your Team Feel Rewarded and Recognised for Empowered Behaviour*
When team members feel compensated, noticed, praised, and appreciated, you can expect results from them. For successful empowerment, recognition plays a significant role.
Ultimately, successful empowerment depends upon your team being ready, willing and able to take on the responsibility that comes with it. When successfully employed, empowerment also means less managing detail on your part, and more leading teams to success.
So what are three things you can do to empower others tomorrow?
Not delegate; not direct; but truly empower?