Moving from Delegating to Empowering

Moving from Delegating to Empowering

Empowering is critical to organizational leadership. What’s the difference between delegation and empowerment? For our purposes, we’ll use these definitions:

Delegation – telling another exactly what to do and how to do it, then expecting them to follow those directions to obtain the results specified.

Empowering – giving another a task to accomplish, defining expectations, and then giving them the responsibility and freedom to do what is asked of them in the best way they see fit.

ROI of Empowerment

Empowering the members of your team provides several benefits to your organization. It will:

  • Leverage the strengths of all members of the team, increasing engagement.
  • Build loyalty.
  • Increase desire to contribute their best to the goals of the organization.

Additionally, it frees you, as the leader, to focus on what only you can do in the organization.

Developing Trust

Leading an empowered team requires trust and this trust starts with you as the leader. To inspire trust, you must be credible and always do what you say you will. Each time you deliver on what you promise to your team, you build their trust in you more and more.

Remember, trust is contagious. When you extend trust to your team, they will return it to you. You may say that it’s risky to extend trust and there are times when trust extended is not reciprocated. If that happens, you must deal with it, but as a general rule, extending trust will provide you with trust and results from your team.

Err on the side of trust and deal with issues as they come up. That builds your trust bank account with your team even more as they see you deal fairly with issues where trust is broken.

Setting Expectations

As you may have noticed in the definition of empowering above, the leader sets expectations for the work to be done. Setting expectations is critical to the results meeting the needs of the organization. This requires the leader to communicate clearly, providing a well-defined outcome. This communication needs to include all stakeholders and incorporate the timeline, the budget and any information and resources the team needs to reach the goal being assigned to them.

Team members also have responsibilities in the empowerment process. They must gain clarity regarding the requirements of the project, as well as contribute their strengths and their knowledge to the success of the project. If they don’t understand any part of their responsibilities, they are accountable to discuss the unclear parts until they reach clarity.

Moving from delegation to empowerment is a process. Done well, it brings dividends to the team leader and members.

We’ve talked about ROI, building trust and setting expectations this month. Next month we’ll talk about the process of empowering in more depth.

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