During candidate interviews, I like to ask the question, “What type of leader would you not like to work for?” Almost everyone says they don’t want to work for a leader who micromanages them. Some will say they want more direction than others, but everyone agrees they don’t want to be “managed.” An empowering leadership style can be considered the opposite of micromanagement. Micromanagement has been talked about to death over the last 20 years and is a style that is universally disliked by employees. We typically define empowerment in a business context as leaders assigning responsibilities and decision making in a way that makes people responsible for results.
We also know that an empowering leadership style helps the individuals on the team to be more confident and own their work. When someone feels empowered, they are more likely to work harder and pay attention to details than they would have otherwise. Why tend to details if you know your manager is going to catch your mistakes for you?
Essentially, it is a style that: (1) frees up the leader to focus on leading, (2) makes individual team members feel better about themselves and their work, and (3) is just generally better for productivity and the overall workplace climate.
When someone feels empowered, they are more likely to work harder and pay attention to details. [Click to Tweet]
So how can leaders empower others? Some leaders have a natural transformational approach that allows them to adjust their style to each of their team members. Others struggle with the soft skills and end up micromanaging tasks. If you want to be a more empowering leader, try this challenge: I have put together a short list of tips that leaders can use to empower their employees. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but a good starting point. If you're up for the challenge, try a new tip each week and see what type of results you see. Enjoy empowering others!
Leadership Tips to Empower Others
- WEEK 1 - Identify specific interests of each of your direct reports. Brainstorm challenge assignments that may encourage them to develop their skills within their area of interest.
- WEEK 2 - Be positive about new ideas that your team members bring to the table. Encouraging others to think outside the box will empower the team.
- WEEK 3 - Be a participative leader. Nothing motivates teams more than the leader getting their hands dirty.
- WEEK 4 - Sit down with each direct report and ask them what types of experiences they would like to have in order to develop their skills. Work with them to get those types of experiences.
- WEEK 5 - Next time you assign a stretch assignment to an employee, be sure to schedule regular check-ins. This way, you can ensure that they have sufficient support and resources to complete the job successfully. During these meetings, make sure to provide feedback on your observations of their work. Encourage them to reach out in between meetings. Make sure to give them enough leeway so they do not feel overly managed.
- WEEK 6 - Hold a brainstorming session with your team. Ask them to generate 1 or 2 process improvements for the team. As a team, decide which ones to focus on first and give the employee the ownership to lead the improvement effort for the team.
- WEEK 7 - Next time you assign a project to an employee, make sure that you convey the overall importance and goals of the project. Understanding the reasons for the project will help them to feel more responsible for the project so they take full ownership.