There are times in the business world when management theories shift. It’s like every few years or so there is some new trend that runs through the business world in terms of management and corporate leadership, downsizing, outsourcing, generational conflicts at work, and the information age has made things even more complicated than ever before. These shifts happen periodically throughout history.
Fads and fashions change constantly. In the business world, we’ve seen supervisory styles and management strategies to pass in and out of fashion over the years. With more millennials taking up positions of responsibility, there is lots of talk about generational conflicts and the rise of technological advances. Supervising a team of employees can be something of a mixed bag, as challenging as it can be rewarding. Empowering leadership is the next evolution in leadership style and strategy that engages and empowers everyone to be their very best.
Empowering Leadership Sees the Differences
When it comes to leadership, we’ve learned that treating your employees as if they’re all the same just doesn’t work anymore. We can’t treat people the same anymore because we all have different strengths and motivations. No longer can leaders treat everyone the same and expect to get the best out of their people because everyone is different in some way or another.
We need a different kind of leadership to manage everyone as unique and different from each other. We need a framework which recognizes how individuals work best in a way that gives them respect as well as enables them to do their best for their role at the workplace.
Empowered leadership is not easy but it’s what all businesses should strive to have. Empowered leadership represents a cycle of sharing responsibilities and power between management and workers so that both groups learn from one another and grow together. In many ways, this leadership style makes the whole team more effective as they can share their knowledge and take advantage of each other’s strengths.
Empowering Leadership Shares the Load
If you’re a manager, then empowering your staff will help them be even more effective in their roles and responsibilities by providing them with more information, responsibility or resources they may need to get the job done. For employees, sharing the load with others allows for greater accountability and responsibility as well as a sense of being an important part of a team. It essentially makes everyone more valuable because it presents opportunities for various growth types – not just for those in the power positions within the business.
Great leaders recognize and cultivate talent. People want to work with and for someone who allows them to grow and be their best selves. When people feel in-tune with their leaders, incorporating this kind of relationship into the working environment can and often leads to better and more desirable results than would come from fear-mongering.
Empowering Leaders Give Away Their Power
The best you can hope for from someone when using your position of authority to get things done is compliance. But when you allow an employee room for growth at your workplace, you create a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties walk out feeling satisfied because they learned something new about themselves along the way.
Working as a manager, keep in mind that your employees will increasingly resent you if they feel like there’s no way out of from under your thumb. It is extremely counterproductive to your work and business and overall position as a leader if people working for you become disengaged and demotivated. It all comes down to making yourself an individual who’s worth looking up to, an authority worthy of respect, and not one who’s modus operandi is “my way or the highway”.
When people feel manipulated by their leaders, it’s difficult to get the best from them. Unfortunately, manipulation is all too common in businesses. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through the years it is that leaders who enforce decisions based on authority or position are far less effective than those who leverage their influence and relationships.
Think about it. Coercion often creates a counterproductive environment with mistrust and suspicion preventing productivity from being at its best. In contrast, consider working in a collaborative environment where the focus is on addressing problems as a team through positivity and encouragement.
The absolute best a manager can hope for is to have their team bring out the best in themselves with freedom to be innovative and creative. Are you able to motivate your employees without demanding anything from them? Do you know how to offer suggestions so that they feel they have a voice? A happy, healthy workplace promotes a healthy relationship between employer and employee, which generates productive work from everyone.
Empowering Leadership Has Team Member Loyalty
When project managers seek to empower their workers, they will gain their loyalty. Workers want to give their team leader their best when they are listened to and respected. Without fear, their minds can be creative and innovative. When managers accommodate special requests that don’t interfere with the project timeline or product or service delivery, then their employees will give back their best in return. Giving away power only increases a manager’s power.
When it comes to empowering your employees, start by listening to them and treating them with respect. People will recognize this and appreciate you because they will know they aren’t just a face in the crowd. When requests are accommodated even when it might be an inconvenience or other problems arise for other employees or projects, then everyone will feel the motivation to give their all to you in return and pull together as a team.
Empowering employees increases their own power and also helps you gain greater influence over your team thus making both of your jobs easier in the long run. If someone feels supported, has individual freedom, is given a voice, and treated well, you can bet that they’ll go above and beyond for their work.
When communicated correctly, employees are actually the best resource for management to use when considering what direction a project should go. However, there is an art to these communication skills. Managers need to know how to stand up for their subordinates’ wishes while communicating what management really wants out of certain situations without negatively affecting morale in the process.
Empowering Leadership Balances Production with Human Capital
Being a pushover is never a viable way to manage your employees. However, in order to stay in the good books of both your employer and staff alike, you have a dual responsibility when it comes to forming relationships with your colleagues – you must make sure that your employees know exactly what their superiors want from them while at the same time communicating to management how things are going regarding providing employees with additional resources they might ask for or requesting changes in circumstances. In essence, you’re the bridge between management and staff. This is not an easy line to walk.
As a manager, it is our job to push our team to deliver the best results possible. We can’t do this, however, by placing all of the pressure on them alone – we must help facilitate the process by involving employees in decision-making. This allows us to share responsibility with them so that they feel invested in their work and see their contribution as an essential asset. At the same time, employees will realize that you are doing all you can to allow them to be at ease with their responsibilities and will become more willing to put the work in if they believe you’re helping them reach any goals they may have set out for themselves.
As an employer, you cannot expect to elicit top performance from your workforce if the employees do not have complete respect for their leaders. Being a total pushover is no way to draw out the best in your employees. Employees need to know that there are non-negotiables; they need leaders who draw clear boundaries and rules that keep them productive and on track. The truth of the matter is you may bring problems on yourself if you don’t like to have those hard conversations when others step over the line or don’t toe the line.
Employees must feel valued and respected by their boss if they’re going to give their very best. By letting them know what’s expected of them and rewarding them for a job well done with genuine praise, you also help convey the message that you value their contribution and want to support them in creating something great with you.
If employees don’t respect you enough to follow your guidance and listen to constructive criticism about how to do things better, then those same workers won’t trust you enough or want to work hard for your business or company – which can lead to an unhealthy workplace culture where there is no unity. This is not behavior anyone should put up with anywhere but definitely not at work.
Empowering Leaders Lead Themselves First
As a manager, it is most certainly your responsibility to set the bar high for each and every one of your employees as well as yourself. In order to expect greatness from everyone on staff, you must bring out the best in yourself first. If you only hope for average results from everyone that is exactly what you will get – a group of people who put out average work at best.
You have to lead by example if you want things to be done well. As a leader, it’s important that your staff see you’re a hard worker too. When they see that you’re giving it 100% every day and aren’t content with anything less than fantastic results from yourself, it will be easier for them to follow suit. People do what people see.
When trying to achieve production goals, make sure you enlist help from your workers. You should always try to set the goal with the underlying concept of continual improvement. While you are a manager, you have the responsibility to create a need-satisfying workplace for yourself and your employees. It’s important that goals are in line with one another – meaning if one goal is not being met it may affect others in an undesirable way. You can’t emphasize one without there being unintended consequences.
As a manager it is your duty to create an environment where everyone can grow personally and professionally because you need them to be happy for business to thrive. There are certain behaviors you want to avoid like the appearance of favoritism, giving special treatment or highlighting one team member over others. This sort of thing can make some people feel isolated or cause problems with team dynamics.
While production and people have a symbiotic relationship in business, it is possible to overdo either one. Prioritize the production needed for a successful business while keeping in mind that your employees may feel resentful or burnt out without having a job that satisfies their personal needs and goals. It can be just as bad when you focus too much on the work-life balance aspect for your workers while sacrificing things like production. A lot of them will see your lack of emphasis on production as an opportunity to take advantage, which is why it’s important not to overlook this issue either. Be sure to work towards a balance between the two.
Empowering Leadership Walks the Line Every Day
It’s in the middle when you’re walking that very fine line between the needs of your employees and your production goals that you’ll find empowered leadership is most effective. People want to be valued, they want to know that you appreciate them – they also want results. Helping them understand where their roles fit into everything will help boost their morale and this is where everyone will be most productive.
Ready to embrace being an empowering leader? Learn more about how to develop your leadership skills with the Effective Leadership email newsletter.
Or contact me today for a complementary Strategy Session: Leadership Strategy Session