"Start with why customers will never love a company until the employees love it first." --Simon Sinek
Effective leadership is characterized by leaders empowering their teams to achieve success. And when employees feel empowered, it’s likely they’ll turn work into one of their great love affairs. But this all feels a little abstract. What does “empowering employees” look like in action?
Here are four actions you can implement today to empower your employees and improve their success.
1. Establish a culture of trust. Success depends on trust, and leaders need to not only demonstrate integrity but also inspire it.
Strategy: Leaders must follow-through on promises. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Give feedback. Ask for feedback. Act on feedback. Share the good and the bad (without terrifying your teams), and discuss challenges and successes (to avoid hallway whispers).
2. Be kind. Show empathy. Good leaders recognize the humanity of their teams.
Strategy: Practice active listening. It’s important to listen to what’s being said and what’s not being said. Develop your emotional intelligence skills (EQ). Create a place for open, candid, and thoughtful communication. Model assertive communication. Acknowledge feelings. For instance, if there have been layoffs, it’s key to recognize your teams are feeling insecure, sad, and angry. Work through it and get back on track.
3. Ask why? All employees must know the “why” of the organization. This creates a purpose-driven organization and it’s the roadmap to getting employees to align their work with the mission, vision, values, and goals of the company. Simon Sinek discusses the golden circle – why, how, what. WHY is essential to empower employees.
Strategy: Purpose must be embedded in the organization’s mission statement. Communicate how each individual’s, each team’s efforts are building toward the organization’s goals. Let your Oz out. Give employees who aren’t on the frontlines the opportunity to experience their work in a user’s hand. (For instance, give a designer the chance to watch a child play with a toy.)
4. Develop your teams. Supporting growth opportunities with your employees empowers them to grow and advance in their careers.
Strategy: Meet with each employee to learn about their personal and professional goals. Identify opportunities and assign stretch tasks according to your employees’ interests. Continued education courses, community college classes, technical courses, master’s programs, MOOCs, conferences, seminars, workshops, and classes are all ways to continually develop your team. Set up cross-department shadowing opportunities. Make every single day one that is driven with purpose and provides your employees with growth opportunities.
Employee empowerment is defined by the ways organizations provide employees with a degree of autonomy and control in their day-to-day work. This comes with an implicit understanding employees will have the tools and resources to get their jobs done.
Empower your employees and succeed.