Empowerment: Why is it so important? With increased competition, tighter margins and fluid workforce, to stay in business companies must anticipate their customers’ needs and adjust quickly to changing environments. Additionally, an empowered organization holds many advantages for employees.
For example, employees can make decisions, have flexibility in how they accomplish their work, are clear on their goals and can feel a greater sense of ownership and accomplishment. The list goes on and on. In a recent empowerment study, Gallup estimated that only 30% of U.S. employees are actively engaged in their work. Of the remaining 70%, 50% are not engaged, and 20% are actively disengaged. So, what does it take to create a culture of empowerment? What does mean to be empowered? One definition of empowerment is releasing the power within people. It’s creating an environment where individuals can realize their highest potential.
An empowered organization starts with self-empowerment. Leaders cannot empower others to reach their highest potential and perform their best until they are empowered themselves. It is much easier to point fingers at others and talk about everyone and everything that needs to change. The more difficult part is to look inward and work on improving yourself. I am sure as many of us have learned from our own experiences that we cannot change others. The only person we have the power to change is ourselves.
Here is one place we can start:
Ask yourself: Do I want to reach my full human potential? A personal state where I can accomplish things I never thought were possible, both personally and professionally? Do I want to come to work on Monday morning excited about my work and my contributions to the company? If the answer is yes, what does being empowered look like to you?
What can you do today to create a more empowered environment for yourself and others? Are you sharing information that can help someone be successful or make better decisions or are you getting the job done no matter the cost even if it means trampling over others?
Be honest. We all appreciate honesty and transparency. But are we being honest with ourselves? What areas do we feel we need to develop to become better leaders? Better humans? Better partners, spouses, parents and friends? When we are under pressure, what
behaviors do we exhibit? Is it command and control or do we create safe space for our teams to problem solve?
Communicate clear goals and expectations. Have you ever come home at night tired from a long day of work and traffic, and had an expectation that was not met? Perhaps you assumed that dinner would be made or that your spouse would take care of an errand or get the kids to bed. It wasn’t that you communicated your expectations to them, you just assumed that it was going to happen, but it did not. How did you feel? Upset, misunderstood or perhaps angry? Not communicating your expectations leads to misunderstanding. Be clear about your goals and expectations, and communicate them to your teammates.
Leadership is first and foremost a way of being; it is not a position or job title. Great leaders start by leading themselves. They take accountability for their actions. Accountability is a willingness to own the results of your choices: actions, inactions, behaviors, thoughts, communication and attitude. An accountable person doesn't waste time blaming others or making excuses. Leaders start with Self.
About the Author
Karina is a senior-level global executive with over 10 years of international experience in building successful teams, organizing resources and directing global operations to achieve profit, product and service objectives. She helps individuals, teams and organizations recognize and realize their potential and align them with overall corporate and individual goals. Karina currently leads global Empowerment at ENAVATE.