Leaders: one of the key things you must ALWAYS do is empower your team. As I've learned over the years, most leaders at their core are control freaks, which is part of the reason they are successful. But we all must learn and recognize the need to empower those around us to succeed and do what they do well. Most leaders think they can do it all on their own, and many try, but ultimately in order to grow a successful organization that outlives you, as the leader, you have to empower those around you. Here are a few thoughts on Empowering your Team:
1. Give them the opportunity to make decisions, and don't second guess them. A lot of us as leaders are willing to allow our team members to make decisions, but want to step in as soon as we see something done differently than we would do. Don't make that mistake. It is totally demoralizing to your team. Believe me, I know from experience!!
2. Assign them responsibility by them owning key projects from START to FINISH. So once we allow team members to make key decisions, now we have to allow them to own projects and feel the responsibility of completion.
3. Give them Freedom combined with Accountability. Freedom without accountability can lead to a great place to work with nothing getting done. Accountability without Flexibility can lead to a terrible place to work with things getting done but everyone hating their job. These have to work together.
4. Fight for them. Whether it's standing up for them to your boss, or standing beside them and supporting them in a disagreement with a vendor, always take the stance of fighting for them and being willing to go to battle for them.
5. Encourage them. This is the one we so often forget. I know I do. I tend to keep pushing without stopping to say thanks. But encouragement can go the furthest in creating team chemistry, longevity, and commitment. Reward them with small gifts, extra unexpected bonuses, cards, etc. Be unexpected in your thankyous. Hand them out without bias. No one has ever been too much of a true encourager!
6. Counsel, coach and instruct. Not necessarily the same as encouragement. Great coaches do this well. They scream at you and make you better, while also putting their arm around you and giving you "ego biscuits" when needed. Two different parts of empowering, but both equally important. Instruction is key for releasing again and again, and assigning more responsibility.
7. Overwhelm them. Not on a continual basis, but ultimately your team members should constantly feel a bit overwhelmed by the projects or assignments they are working on, not underwhelmed. Many of their projects should cause them to feel like they are not prepared or ready. If they feel underwhelmed, they will probably end up looking elsewhere for greater assignments and more responsibility.
8. Give them permission. Permission to take risks, to fail, to represent your organization to others, take on responsibility and stewardship, and many other things. But ultimately give them permission to push back. Give them permission to call you out as the leader (appropriately, of course). Give them permission to argue and fight for their idea, even when it looks like it's directly competing with your idea as the leader. Permission to push back. This does wonders.