Are you ready to have a more positive impact on those you lead? Would you like to be the one who empowers others to be their best?
When good leaders are effectively empowering their team, their lives are easier and their team is happier. When teams are empowered, leaders don’t spend nearly as much time checking up, putting out fires, or lighting fires under people who are not motivated. When people feel empowered, they will be at their best and get their best results. When your team is running smoothly and each person feels empowered to do their own tasks, it frees you up to do what you’re supposed to be doing – which is to be the best leader you can be.
Here are five steps to get you started:
1. Start with a common vision.
It is vitally important to have a clear vision of what you are doing and why. This is true for both personal and business ventures. Your vision can guide your decisions as well as your directions to others.
Once you know your vision and you’re using it as your guidance system, empower your group by describing the vision to them. Paint a picture of your vision in full, living color, so that they can be just as committed to it as you are. As the English Evangelist John Wesley wrote, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”
When you have a common vision, you will also have clearer communication and a shared language so that your group members feel included in the vision.
2. Expect the best.
When you approach people with the attitude that you expect them to succeed, they will usually rise to meet your expectations (unfortunately, the opposite is also true). If you can grant a level of trust and responsibility, and give your group members the benefit of the doubt, they will feel empowered to do their best.
This does require a shift from you, and it’s sometimes quite a deep one. You may need to let go of some control, challenge your preconceptions, and have faith in results that you haven’t seen yet.
Give yourself permission to try this, trusting that you can always make adjustments or grab back some control (if you absolutely need to).
3. Personalize your approach.
It’s very easy – and common – to assume that your group members will be motivated by the same types of rewards, praise, directions and rationales that you are. Yet this isn’t always the case.
You don’t need to send out long questionnaires or get personally involved in every detail of their lives, but get to know your group members well enough that you will be able to use motivators that are meaningful to each individual person.
A personal approach will also help to ensure that the right person is always working on the right task.
4. Ask for feedback.
More than an open door policy that says you’re available, show that you’re actually interested. Ask people for informal, spontaneous feedback and listen to their answers. Ask them to write down their ideas and have somewhere to store them where they’re organized and easy to retrieve.
Ask about what the group is working on together, but also ask specifically about your leadership, e.g., “What did you find useful about that meeting?” “How can I make my directions more useful?” “Is there anything else you need from me that would help you complete those tasks?”
You never know when the combination of an open door policy and open-ended questions could inspire the next great idea that will propel your vision forward!
5. Adjust your course when needed.
Demonstrate to your group members that you were listening when they shared their feedback. Implement some of their suggestions, try new things and ask follow-up questions.
It is a sign of flexibility, humility, courage and strength to open yourself up to new possibilities that you didn’t think of yourself. For your group members, it will be incredibly rewarding to have someone value their opinion and ideas.
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