The Employee Empowerment Tools of Inspirational Leaders
Looking back through history, it is clear that the world’s greatest leaders are those that have been able to inspire their people. Whether those leaders have been on the battlefield, in the halls of political power, in sport, or in business, those we associate with doing great things have been the people that lead their people rather than control them.
Leaders such as JFK, Winston Churchill, Coach Ken Carter, Jack Welch, and Henry Ford have inspired generations to do great things themselves. None achieved their success by controlling their people. They didn’t dictate what or how things should be done. Instead they gave their people the power to make their own decisions in line with a common set of beliefs and values. In today’s rapidly changing world of business, it is the ability of a person to empower others that marks them out as a leader rather than a manager.
But what employee empowerment tools do leaders draw upon?
The difference between managing and leading
The old style management hierarchies are breaking down in a more connected and informed society. Thriving businesses are those that are led rather than managed. In this, we see a distinct set of behavioral differences between managers and leaders: differences that manifest themselves as employee empowerment tools.
- Managers appraise and assess. Leaders give feedback and advice.
- Managers control their people with instructions. Leaders trust their people to make their own decisions.
- Managers organize their employees’ time. Leaders allow a more autonomous approach to the achievement of goals.
- Managers require the status quo to be maintained. Leaders encourage people to improve and reach their own targets.
- Managers require conformity to the rulebook. Leaders understand the power of character.
- Managers ensure training is completed. Leaders engender a culture of safety and self-improvement that is vital for individual, team, and organizational success.
Essential employee empowerment tools
Reading through the list above, those currently managing their staff will immediately assess leadership as a loose style that risks anarchy. Nothing could be further from the truth. When Abraham Lincoln made the Gettysburg Address, he didn’t force his views on the American people. Rather he appealed to their individual and collective set of beliefs and values. He empowered people to decide for themselves what actions were necessary. The result was a course that has dictated an entire nation’s set of beliefs, values, and sense of justice for hundreds of years (and will continue to do so). This is the foundation upon which the leader’s employee empowerment tools exit and thrive.
Leaders are adept at employing a core set of skills that enable them to inspire rather than control. These essential leadership qualities are:
- Emotional intelligence
- Listening skills
- Negotiation skills
Empowerment by leadership in action
When a leader empowers their people, results snowball. Think of the way that Google has empowered its people to be more autonomous in their jobs, enabling them to manage their own workflows and career progression. Then consider that Google has ranked as the number one company to work for six years consecutively. When people are satisfied at work, creativity and productivity rises, morale increases, revenue grows, and costs reduce.
When a leader has developed the core set of skills needed, they will have the employee empowerment tools to make a real difference to their organization:
- Leaders with the ability to listen, communicate, and influence will empower employees to make decisions which help to achieve both individual and company goals
- A more open and inspiring leader will encourage ideation. Creativity and new working practices will flow through to the shop floor, and best practices can be shared to encourage organization wide improvement
Companies that strategize for success throughout the 21st century will make the art of leadership a core ingredient of business strategy and ensure their leaders’ capabilities include all the employee empowerment tools.
In our next article, we’ll discuss how Enterprise Holdings became the number one car rental company through employee empowerment.
Contact Forward Focus today, and we’ll help you realize the benefits of empowering your employees.