As leaders, one of our primary focusses is empowering our employees to thrive.  So how might we do that?  First and foremost we must believe in them.  Believe they have good intentions, be secure in the knowledge that they have the skills and the tools to undertake their role effectively.  If you recognise there are areas for development create opportunities for this to happen. Create a learning culture where mistakes are recognised for what they are more likely to be;  an unintentional mishap!  Put support in place for the mistake to be put right immediately and extract the learning, so subsequently it may be applied.  Empowerment is a place where achievements are recognised and celebrated and the learning shared with all.  Sincere appreciation for effort, recognition for small as well as big steps, for the complexity of some tasks over others.  A mindset that believes that all opinions are of value and so enabling  opportunities for all to contribute they thoughts and views.

Provide Clarity

In the way we comport ourselves, the instructions we give and the targets we set, we should always strive for clarity. As we know from previous interactions with colleagues, clarity is more than asking if there are any questions. Checking out assumptions using deliberately focused open questions is essential. There will always be some colleagues who feel less comfortable in asking questions and if our direction lacks clarity, some may misunderstand our intention. If we are not robust with our approach we risk losing people along the way as they become confused, disorientated and eventually disempowered.

A few minutes spent proactively clarifying your instructions and expectations can iron out any misconceptions, can save hours of lost productivity and allow employees more freedom to produce their best work.

Maintain Consistency

While employees may complain about repetition, they are also appreciative of routine and regularity. While this is often expected in their role and responsibilities, it’s also something we can deliver in our leadership interactions.

Attending to challenges modelling a consistent approach, one that you can explain if needs be, provides a consistency signal to others. Over time, as they see you handle a variety of situations with a set approach, they will learn that approach and use it themselves.

It empowers employees to take responsibility for resolving issues they face. That not only improves overall efficiency but bolsters confidence for the individual and morale for the team.

Speaking and acting with honesty and integrity fosters an atmosphere of trust. Take the time to talk with and listen to signals, that you care and that they matter. Give encouragement, not criticism, transparent feedback with critique. Nurture talent, project positivity and mean what you say, be sincere.

“Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.” 

Dale Carnegie

Imbue Confidence

There is an oft shared post on LinkedIn of two executives discussing employee training:

Exec #1: What if we invest in training our employees and they leave?

Exec #2: What if we don’t and they stay?

The old leadership ways were often to rule in a borderline dictatorial way, my word is law etc. The hope is that keeping employees fearful, stops them from questioning leadership edicts or leaving the company.

Employees will always question leadership decisions and in a more uncertain and volatile world this is increasingly important we cannot afford to be doing what we have always done, where it’s no longer fit for purpose.  We cannot afford to fall into the “GROUPTHINK” hole.  What is important is for leaders to have the confidence and offer opportunities for employees to join in open discussion and debate offering  their thoughts, ideas, worries and concerns.  This way we maximise on the return in investment in their development and training and utilise their knowledge and skills to the full. This way we empower them to take more ownership for themselves and the wider whole.

Empowering employees by imbuing them with a sense of confidence will not mean they want to leave, if anything, they will want to stay. In work, as in life, the decision to give up an environment where we feel confident, perhaps even strong, for a new unknown, is difficult. Most people are hard-wired for security.

Confidence is created through clear and consistent interactions with employees, your openly expressed confidence in them will be rewarded with their confidence in you, leaving them feeling empowered to work at their best.

Sue Winton is a ‘Developmental’ Leadership coach. An approach characterised by enabling deep self-reflection and discussions, centred around previously unexplored thoughts feelings and experiences. ‘Sue is a highly inspirational leadership coach who has the ability to drive positive personal transformation’ ST, UK & I Strategic & Innovation Managing Director, Experian.