As leaders one of the greatest legacies we can create is, an Empowered Organisation.
One of the challenges with empowerment, and why I suspect so many leaders shy away from it, is that in order to empower people, we have to give up some our power.
To delegate that power to our teams: to allow them to make their own decisions; to take accountability for their success; and to let them to become self sufficient.
One of the best bosses I ever worked for was very strong in this area. He was the first person to teach me about self sufficiency and empowerment, and it is something that has stayed with me, and that I look to pass on to my teams.
Every time I went to him with a problem, we repeated the same process:
- I’d explain to him the problem;
- Then he would say, what do you think would be the best thing to do?;
- I would give him my suggestion;
- He would say great idea, lets do it.
About the third or fourth time I went to see him, he said yes, “what can I do for you?”.
I said “we have a problem”, he looked at me quizzically, and smiled.
I said, “yes, I am going to tell you we have a problem; you will ask me what we should do; I will tell you; and then you will say ok, go do it”.
He said “Yes, that’s pretty much whats going to happen, so what do you conclude.”
I said, “I conclude that we don’t need to have this conversation. That I have the solution and can solve this on my own”.
He said, “Great, usually this takes a little longer, but well done. You know more about the details than I do; so more likely than not you will know the right thing to do, better than me. I am here to say well done when you do that, and to provide support for when you don’t know what to do”.
He understood that his job: was to let me do my job, not to do mine for me; to help me grow to become self-sufficient; and to make himself redundant.
He was confident in his own ability to do his own job, that he didn’t need to keep helping me do mine.
I often think that some leaders lack confidence, and need to be involved in that level of detail, in order to prove their value.
Good leaders empower their teams; they trust them to do their jobs; they make themselves become redundant.
This doesn’t mean that we abandon our teams and leave them to their own devices.
It means that we need to build their confidence in their own abilities, empower to use those abilities, and then stand back and applaud their success. That’s leadership.