“Empowerment should be a part of every leader’s toolkit. It strengthens everyone in the organization, it keeps the company on the path to success, and it builds one of the most important elements on any team – trust.” —Colin Powell, from It Worked for Me in Life and Leadership
In my previous article (“Leading from Abundance – The Power of Positivity,” In Business Magazine, September 2022), the topic was the notion of the power of positive leadership and its impact on the success of the organization. Leadership positivity and leading from abundance is only one aspect of how a leader can grow the organization with the intent of driving impact in meaningful, opportunistic ways. Creating positive leadership among all employees is a terrific goal, but how does that occur? How do positive leadership principles permeate throughout the organization? Let’s begin.
Building leadership is the key ingredient to helping build one’s team and impact one’s productivity. Often, the organizational structure can impose the philosophy on the direction of the team, suffocating any opportunity for creativity and positivity to flourish. Allowing teams the opportunity and autonomy is the first step. People in general feel suffocated when they have little latitude to do the things they feel are necessary to work toward the goal. Eliminating that obstacle will enable groups to understand more clearly what is needed and allow them to dream of possible outcomes in new and exciting ways. Leaders should encourage teams within to engage in those discussions without intimidation or hesitance to speak up and, for the moment, worry less about process and budget. Passing the power to the teams allows them the opportunity to do just that. Team empowerment is the key to positive engagement.
Next is to solicit and care about the input from the team. Often, we facilitate brainstorm sessions to “engage” everyone in the process. While at first glance intentions are good, we often walk away and do something entirely different and don’t incorporate the thoughts of the participants. That alone breeds a negativity toward the organization’s goals and direction and insults those who participated as being a complete time waster. It immediately robs everyone of a feeling of empowerment! Corey Wong is a Grammy-nominated American guitarist, bassist, songwriter and producer. His background spans genres jazz, rock and funk. When Cory performs with the band, it’s obvious early on that he is the leader of the group, while also empowering each bandmember to add the elements needed to produce a quality performance. Cory clearly confesses that the music is not about him but about the collective power each member brings to the sound. You can see by the smiles on the musicians faces and interaction with each other that they thoroughly enjoy their effort and appreciate the value that Cory’s empowerment brings to the group’s success and the trust that is created.
True empowerment creates a level of trust that instills confidence in the staff of any organization and allows the team to flourish. No one leads an organization to success on their own. It is the collective excellence of many that builds success. All of us lead based on the considerable work of everyone on the team who has labored, contributed and committed to the same commonly stated goals.
As Colin Powell has stated, “Trust from leader to led, and trust between everyone on the team. Empowerment invests in people, and there is no greater ROI in any profession!” Leaders can start now to engage and empower their teams, and begin building a positive future.
Bruce Weber is founder and president/CEO at Weber Group. Weber brings more than 20 years of experience to the for-profit and nonprofit community, working with startup, growth and mature organizations. His focus is in strengthening organizations through strategic planning, organizational development, leadership and board development. He is a BoardSource Certified Governance trainer and a founding partner of the Nonprofit Lifecycles Institute.
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