Leadership is everywhere, overt or latent, we believe everyone has the potential to lead. Given the power to do something, employees become stronger and more confident, especially if they feel in control and accountable for the outcomes. But to empower others is not just a question of handing over responsibility and tasks.
To empower is to trust. To trust you need to know your people well.
For empowerment to be successful and have the desired effect on performance, engagement, and leadership, we have to enable people to take on the ‘right’ kind and amount of work, at the right time. We’re not just talking about technical expertise and know-how, leaders must be aware of their employees’ likes/dislikes and pay attention to their energy levels and capacity to take on new or different opportunities.
The Strengths Profiling tool we use in our Connected Leadership programs defines what people do well, what they love doing and energises them. It also measures how often they use their strengths. It is a great pathway to getting to know employees and what to empower them with.
When empowerment is not working – what could be in overdrive?
When empowering employees to do things they perform well at, we may run the risk of burdening them with an overload of their Realised Strengths, the things they do well, they find energising and do often. The Strengths Profile report uses the tagline “Use Wisely” to address this potentially negative result.
If employees are constantly asked to perform within their top strengths, two detrimental outcomes may occur:
1. They are not able to dial up other strengths in their toolbox to diversify and open their scope of work.
2. They stop loving doing certain tasks that then turn into de-energising learned behaviours, some may even get to the point of resenting them. The counter-productive overuse of strengths is a real issue.
Another important strengths reality for many is having a number of strengths they use less, what the report calls unrealised strengths. Empowering them should be an opportunity to support the use of these strengths more. Creating the capacity and focus on strengths that reenergise your people is important to leadership development and growth.
Empowering leadership should motivate and refuel employees.
Strengthspotting is one of the most valuable skills leaders can develop in preparation for creating the right empowerment strategies. Delegating authority and decision-making will work best for employees when connected to their strengths. Especially knowing how to best leverage the diverse and sometimes buried or underused strengths which are a great source of future success.
“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking” Richard Buckminster Fuller, architect.
If you want to avoid increasing employees’ job stress or disengaging them from the tasks they perform best. If you need to refuel and assist empowered leaders to succeed and elevate their leadership and performance, get in touch!