Powering up on confidence
Empowerment – it’s the stated holy grail, alongside engagement (of course the two things are interdependent) of many an organisation and leader. It’s also a big, fat word loaded with meaning and misinterpretation. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in empowering others is the sense of having to give away power ourselves?
If we delegate decision-making authority to those we lead then surely that means we’ll have less of a say, less control, and that, little by little, we’ll be less needed and relevant.
Except empowerment isn’t really about power or control. It’s about confidence, part of our ‘inner power’ – our confidence as leaders to equip others to step up and into a place of more responsibility and self-determination. And the confidence we instil in those we’re seeking to empower by extending our trust, and by providing some metaphorical handrails through our coaching and support and, if needed, training. Little by little we see those first ‘baby’ steps become a more confident stride.
This gentle letting go is a tricky balancing act. Of course we need a safety-net for all involved – some progress checks and the opportunity to add in our advice and counsel, to course correct if needed, are great. But if we set too many rules or create bureaucracy around the process then we’re saying everything about our lack of confidence and driving holes through the foundations of theirs.
When you think about your people are you truly giving them the opportunity to step up? Are you ready to catch them if they trip, helping them to learn from the experience and go again? And are you open to the possibilities it opens up for you to shift your contribution to another level? For in helping others to soar we are empowering ourselves with the space and opportunity to do the same.