Feb 21 2021| trust | Leadership
Creating a Culture of Trust - Tactics Part Five
by Phil Eyre Founder
I hear about empowerment everywhere, yet observe it actually happening far less frequently. Our relationship with power is often presumed to be of a “power over” nature, whereby the boss has dominance over his or her subordinates. An overemphasis on such dominant power will detract from genuine empowerment of others. Too much attention to hierarchy will dampen creativity within a business and enable mistakes to persist for too long. Similarly, delegation does not mean abdication of responsibility. Dumping people in the mire without support is dis-empowering.
Instead, power can be shared in a more “power-with” way, with all team members adopting a “we’re in this together” ethos, including the boss. It’s far more about ensuring that the right people are in the right place at the right time, jointly sharing responsibility and success rather than individualistically protecting solo agendas.
- An empowered team have autonomy and are not dependent on the leader. The first leadership hint therefore is to resist the ‘hero-leader’ complex. If you like to be the source of all decisions, swooping in to save the day, you’re not empowering your people.
- Adopt a coaching style as your default. Yes, there will be times when the team need fast direction, but that’s not all the time.
- When asked a question, ask a question; “what have you tried?”, “what could we try?”, “what do you think are our best options?”, “who else can we ask?” and so on. Anything to resist giving the directive too quickly.
- Get to know your people properly. What are their varied experiences beyond the specific role that they have with you? It’s remarkable how a simple exercise to share interests highlights hidden talent.
- Set clear expectations on timeframes and outcomes when delegating roles and tasks. It’s remarkable how many managers and leaders simply assume that their team knows what’s expected of them. However, at the same time resist any urge to tell them precisely how to do their jobs (otherwise you might as well do it for them).
- Don’t micromanage; allow people to express their unique style and creativity. Maintain regular check-ins to help course correct when needed. If you need to jump in and correct, correct only the substance of a problem. When correcting, ask open questions by default: “what do you think would make this even better than it already is?” (even when you know the answer).
- Don’t attend or chair every meeting. Equip others take the responsibility.
- Keep everyone focussed on the big picture (and therefore avoid diving into detail). Understanding how our work and roles contribute to something bigger than ourselves is motivating and support cooperative working. Add “purpose” to every meeting.
- Publicly praise people’s successes. You might think it’s just their job, but it helps to affirm attitudes and actions that you want to encourage. Furthermore, it’s important to show that you’re sharing and not stealing the credit.
- Actively discuss progress and problems. An empowered team is keen to discuss what’s not yet working well in order to improve things and move forward. Make critique healthy and normal, rather than difficult or worse - annual! Encourage regular 1 to 1s as well as team reviews, using phrases like “how could we improve on this?” as standard.
- Actively seek feedback. Invite colleagues and others to comment on how you can improve. Be open to their observations and deliberately make changes. This communicates that feedback is for everyone, not just “done by” the higher-ups “to” those below.