Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Empowering Others

As you may know from reading my most recent posts, I have continued to think about ways in which we can learn from the incident that took place last month on United Airlines Flight #3411. 

One question that has stayed with me the last couple of weeks is why at no time during the turmoil did a team member—from the gate agent to the pilot—step in to deescalate the situation and find a solution. The only answer I can come up with is that United employees have not been empowered to feel like they can take control and make on-the-spot decisions when needed.

Empowering team members is critical to the success of any business. Empowered team members are mission-driven, loyal, creative problem solvers who care as much about the growth and health of the company as you do.   As Bill Gates once said, “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” Here are five ways in which you can empower your team and drive the success of your organization:

1. Vision First
The key to empowering team members is to make sure they know what they are working for and towards. Make sure you communicate the vision for the organization —its goals and aspirations—and how they are critical to its success once or twice a year. This will not only get team members pumped to do the work, but it will also empower them to help drive the organization forward.

2. Show them Who You Are
While it is critical to articulate the vision of the organization, it is equally important for team members to understand who you are – good and bad. No one wants to be on a team with a leader with whom they do not feel a camaraderie or sense of devotion. To that end, be transparent and lead by example. This requires you as the leader to really open up and show some vulnerability. Host regular meetings with your team to share your thoughts (and glean theirs as well) and help them understand what you are working towards. Open communication is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. At the end of the day, your team should never have to guess where you stand.

3. Recognize efforts and reward successes
Empowering team members means making them feel confident enough to take the initiative and make decisions. There is no better way to breed this confidence than by recognizing and rewarding team members who step up. It lets them know that their contributions, ideas and opinions are not only appreciated, but invaluable to the success of the organization. It also encourages them to continue to do what they are doing and inspires others on the team to do the same. This lets employees know their thoughts and opinions are valued and appreciated, making them more likely to speak up.

4. Present New Challenges and Opportunities
Team members need to continue to feel challenged and inspired so they can continue to develop and lead. Be on the lookout for growth opportunities, coach them on tactics to overcome obstacles and seek their help when challenges arise.

5. Get Out of the Way
To truly empower a team, leaders need to get out of the way and be willing to trust their team to do their work. Most team members feel more comfortable stepping up when they don’t feel like they are being monitored every second. They will then feel emboldened to make decisions and take control of what needs to be done. As their manager, don’t hover. Instead, you should express to them that you feel confident in their ability to do the job as they possess the tools for success. Then assure them that you are available for help and support and encourage them to take the lead.

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