Six Steps to Successful Empowerment
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week we talked about deciding who we should empower. We covered the three things you need to look for: knowledge, skill, and desire. This week I would like to look at how you can successfully empower someone. You have done the hard work of choosing the right person, now to the hard work of following the steps that will make it a success.

First, we need to start with a Clear Strategic Vision and Mission. Remember vison leaks, so you can never overcommunicate it. The person you are empowering needs to know the vision and mission so they can act in ways that reinforce it to coworkers, customers, and the community. As Simon Sinek would say, it’s “WHY you do what you do.”

In my many years of leading people, I often failed at the next step, Set Expectations and Clarify Roles. Poorly communicated expectations are planned disappointments. It’s only fair to let the person know exactly what you expect. Don’t sugar coat it; lay out the expectation in detail and engage in a conversation about them so you can be sure the person understands.

Now that we have the expectations laid out, we need to Remove Roadblocks and Provide Resources. There may be those in the organization who resent that someone else was chosen for an opportunity. You may need to have some honest conversations with others so they don’t get in the way of your team member’s growth and achievement. How about resources? Does your newly empowered team member have what they need? How about training, mentoring, or coaching?

I used to have a phrase that my leadership team probably knew by heart; if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. There must be predetermined metrics that the individual needs to meet to ensure success in their new opportunity. The individual needs to be able to see the progress on their own. However, it doesn’t negate the need for Communication and Constructive Feedback. This needs to occur at least a few times per week, and once we are sure that growth into the new opportunity is happening, you can switch to weekly.

As I was reading what others have written on this topic, one thing came across loud and clear, Reward the Right Things. Those behaviors you reward, you get more of. If you reward hard work and appreciate the effort someone puts forward, you will get more of the same. Remember that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just a little word: extra. Look for someone who does a little extra, and they will be extraordinary.

Lastly, Maintain Accountability. The person should be held accountable for the work they agreed to take on. You need to hold yourself accountable for following these six steps to successful empowerment. Often, empowerment failures are the result of poor leadership. How do I know this? I speak from first-hand experience.

If you’d like to hear more details, and some of the mistakes I’ve made empowering people, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 235 of The Next Page podcast.

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