We often think of empowerment as having the authority we need in order to fulfill our responsibilities. But empowerment at its highest level is confidence in our ability to give something of value to someone else – something that improves their life. To put it another way, we feel empowered when we believe that what we give has value.
This feeling of empowerment runs deeper than merely the authority to fulfill a responsibility. As leaders, we can give our employees more authority, but if they don’t believe that what they offer has value, they still don’t feel empowered. Employees feel empowered when they feel valued.
In my earlier post entitled Creating Self-Sufficiency (August 12, 2019), I gave a 6-step process for coaching that leads to self-sufficiency, which is another dimension of empowerment. Self-sufficiency increases the value of what employees can give and their ability to give it.
Here are some other ways to empower the people you lead by increasing the value of what they can give, and their desire to give it.
- Show them that you believe in them and take them seriously. This includes holding them accountable to meet the standards for the team, and to keep improving.
- Ask them to help each other. Show them that you appreciate the value of what they can offer (or have already offered), and encourage them to offer it to others so that the entire team will be more successful. Now empowerment is being reciprocated between employees. This is where your culture of empowerment gains traction.
- Publicly honor their efforts to help each other, especially when these efforts involve sacrifice.
- Listen to their opinions, and respond thoughtfully. Show that you value their thoughts, even when you disagree with them or want them to consider another perspective.
- One of the most valuable ways to empower the people you lead is to encourage them to be a source of positive energy and positive influence to each other. Taking this initiative with their coworkers can increase their value to the team many times over, and can empower them to become leaders who will in turn empower others.
In a culture of empowerment you empower your employees, and you explain to them that their value grows as they give more freely from their own skills and strengths for the well-being of others on their team. A culture of empowerment means that people want to empower each other, and in turn be empowered by each other.