Being an effective leader isn’t about what you can do but what you can inspire in others. The best leaders know how to motivate others to reach their full potential.
Employees may be successful or unsuccessful partly because of their own experience, capabilities, and drive, but leaders play a role in shaping that. It’s not a coincidence that the world’s top leaders were mentored by other top leaders, and it was done by empowering their strengths.
What Is Employee Empowerment?
Employee empowerment is a philosophy that allows employees to make their own decisions and take accountability for them. Leaders can empower employees by giving them the confidence and support they need to succeed.
While empowering employees has a major benefit of supporting their future success, it’s also good for your company. Employees who feel supported are more loyal and less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.
When you give employees the freedom to make their own decisions, they have accountability and understand how their contributions affect the company. They’re motivated to work harder for you and the business’s larger goals.
In addition, empowerment fosters satisfaction. Employees who understand their roles and responsibilities and feel motivated and appreciated are more satisfied with their jobs overall.
Here’s how leaders can empower and support employees to help them grow and reach their full potential:
Leaders have a big responsibility to communicate work to employees and set clear expectations. Employees can’t perform well if they don’t know the job they’re doing or the result they’re aiming for.
By defining the tasks or projects for your employees and addressing any questions or concerns, you can ensure they understand their individual responsibilities in the larger vision. Buffer is an excellent example of a culture that prioritizes open communication, feedback, and transparency to allow employees to perform at their best.
Trust is essential to employee empowerment and loyalty. Employees need the freedom to approach projects and tasks in their own way – and more importantly – have the security to make mistakes and learn from them.
Leaders often struggle with trust and fall back on micromanagement. Just because someone doesn’t perform a task the way you would doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Focus on the results, not how they got there.
Encourage Growth and Development
Learning and growth opportunities have a positive impact on not only the employees but the company as a whole. Employees can learn new skills or competencies to enhance their growth, whether it’s through the company itself or with flexible time to pursue their own learning opportunities.
Chipotle offers this to its employees with its Cultivate a Better World mission, which provides multiple paths for employees to enhance their leadership or career.
Employees have lives and responsibilities outside of work. When life happens, it’s important to show understanding and support for employees with a positive work-life balance. Consider how you can help your employees with options like a flexible schedule for school drop-off or remote work to care for a sick family member.
Kronos Inc. considers flexible scheduling a must for talent recruitment and retention. According to CEO Aron Ain, “employees want flexible work arrangements” and the company prioritizes offering them.
Support Their Performance
Leaders need a sense of what an employee can handle, how they perform under pressure, and how well they tackle new challenges. Identifying and developing weaknesses strategically helps employees rise to the occasion.
Always ahead of the curve, Progressive Insurance shows us how it’s done. The company sets tough goals and challenges employees to achieve them in their own way.
True empowerment is allowing employees to try, fail, and make mistakes. Many leaders struggle to give employees freedom to make mistakes, especially with big projects. But if you get angry with employees every time they have an error, they’ll only become afraid of trying new things.
Adobe’s “no hovering” work policy shows how this can be successful. Instead of allowing micromanagement, Adobe allows employees to ideate, execute, and take responsibility for the outcome.
Listen to Feedback
Good leaders know how to listen to and accept feedback as much as they can give it. Encourage open feedback and ideas, as well as issues and concerns, to position your employees for success.
Microsoft puts this into practice with employee engagement surveys, Employees can share opinions on everything from employee development to larger company decisions to be heard and appreciated.
Employees do their jobs because they get paid, but that’s not often enough to reach their full potential. Encouragement and appreciation can go a long way toward improving job satisfaction and motivating high-quality work in the future.
Whole Foods offers self-directed employee empowerment, employee development classes, and recognition as part of a culture of gratitude. The company highlights exceptional team members with employee recognition awards.
Surround Potential with More Potential
Potential breeds potential. Every employee should be helping to lift each other up and develop a mindset of taking risks and experiencing mistakes and failure. This strategy not only builds a strong foundation of talent by surrounding everyone with knowledgeable people, but it cultivates potential in others.
Twitter takes this approach by fostering a team-oriented environment with social perks like yoga sessions, serene rooftop lunches, and additional benefits. Employees often share how wonderful and exciting Twitter’s culture is and how much they enjoy working with other smart, successful people.
Inspire Success in Your Employees
Great leaders are great because they know how to identify potential and foster it. Instead of micromanaging or nitpicking, they recognize and empower their employees to grow, learn, and realize their potential. Together, leaders and teams can become more productive and creative to support the company’s overall success.
— Author Bio: Allison Todd
Allison Todd is a coach and consultant with over 20 years of experience transforming small and large businesses’ operations and profitability. Whether it’s beginning, launching, or scaling a business, Allison founded her coaching and mentoring businesses with the hopes of helping clients conquer their fears and build confidence to take their business to the next level.