Empowering your people

Image of a cartoon figure walking upwards on a green arrow held upright by another cartoon figureIf I asked you what it is that a leader actually does, what would your answer be? For me, leadership is less about delegation and management, and more about empowering others to help them succeed. Of course, you have to clearly set the direction and role model the behaviours, but if the team are empowered to perform at their best then things will be humming. Plus, the more you empower your people to perform, the more likely they are to innovate in ways you might never have conceived.

Part of enabling others to succeed is helping them develop their skills, and unlocking their potential in areas they might not have even thought of. And this, of course, includes leadership abilities. Finding and nurturing the next generation of leaders is important for organisations of all sizes. After all, the future CEO of BHP or Google is probably cutting their teeth in an entry level position right now – they could even be working for you. And just like the tradesman and the teacher, the hope is for the student to eventually become the master.

Leadership expert Dr Rob McCleland recently shared his ‘6 Fog-cutter questions for leadership success’ on his LeaderTribe blog. He utilised these questions to determine how capable and effective the top leaders were in one of his client organisations, and one question in particular stood out for me: “Is there an area where you believe that you need to be more empowered or receive more clarity?” The response to this one question demonstrates the individual leader’s level of initiative, passion and commitment. The empowered and truly effective leaders have asked for and gained clarity about their level of responsibility and accountability. They are in no doubt about what it is they are required to deliver to be successful. It is our job to ensure all of our people are able to have this level of clarity and the real leaders seek clarification if they are unsure.

Giving your team responsibility and accountability will empower them and foster their independence. Even if you don’t use all six of Dr Rob’s questions, using the one I’ve talked about here might help you discover who the future leaders of your business are.

Happy leading!