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Leadership Empowerment – How To Build A Proactive Team Of Empowered People

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FIn exactly the same way as when you are creating or changing the culture of your business, the empowerment of your team must start at the top. It must also be driven from the bottom. If these two forces are not working together, then change will not be implemented.

So how do you drive things from the bottom? You empower your people. And how do you empower your people? By becoming an empowering leader.

In this context, we are not defining empowerment as giving people power. You do not need to give people something they already have. We are defining empowerment as helping them to identify and release their power.

Empowerment has a sense of ownership at its core. In the first instance, this ownership applies to you as a leader, which means it has to start with your belief system.

If you consider the four main types of leader, then you can see how leadership style impacts on your ability to empower. For example, the autocratic leader is unlikely to empower anybody, because the autocratic leader is the only decision maker within the organisation.

The democratic leader, however, has balance. The ability to delegate and distribute responsibility lies at the heart of empowering leadership. If you are a control freak, then it is not in your nature to trust enough to give other people responsibility [2].

All of which comes back to two things. The first is what you need to do. This is rooted in the importance of being able to move through the different leadership styles, choosing the one that best suits your needs, and the needs of your organisation, at any given time.

The second is how you do it. This is rooted in having a culture of failure. We can see how this works on a national level by looking at the recent changes to Israel’s bankruptcy laws.

In Israel, the emphasis has shifted from punishing those who are facing financial difficulty to supporting them until they are back on their feet. Part of Israel’s amazing start up culture is founded on the view that failure is a helpful, maybe even a necessary, building block to success [1].

Israel’s recent changes around bankruptcy have moved things even further forward. They want you to try, and by holding you up when you try and fail, rather than pushing you further down, they have been able to build on their reputation as the ‘Start Up Nation’, to become regarded as the ‘Scale Up Nation.’

Through the celebration of failure you dispense with fear, and empowerment will naturally follow. In order to succeed the need to control everything must be replaced with the desire to empower others, in the knowledge that failure can be a part of success.

Even when you know that you can outperform everyone in your team, you have to let go. The truth is that you cannot scale if you don’t let go. Empowering others enables growth and prevents stagnation.

So, once you’ve empowered yourself, how do you then empower your team? Through including them, educating them, and spending quality time with them.

There are three distinct stages that you can employ when working to empower your team.  The first is Sharing Information With Your Team. The second is Creating Autonomy Through Setting Boundaries. The final stage is Replacing Hierarchies With Self-Directed Teams. We will look at these in detail in the upcoming articles.

Kristian Livolsi

References:

1. Leichman, A. (2018). Failure: the surprising fuel in Israel’s startup engine. [online] Israel21c. Available at: https://www.israel21c.org/failure-the-surprising-fuel-in-israels-startup-engine/ [Accessed 22 Nov. 2018].

2. Men, L.R., Stacks, D.W. (2013) The impact of leadership style and employee empowerment on perceived organizational reputation”, Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 17 Issue: 2, pp.171-192, https://doi.org/10.1108/13632541311318765

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