"Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others" – John Maxwell.
The world's most successful leaders are those who understand that any meaningful transformation cannot come from one person. It requires a team or a group of people who are inspired by a vision and are empowered to take positive action to achieve the goals. The workings of an organization are not very different in this respect. Only when every employee is empowered and motivated to take ownership can a business become successful. So, what does empowering leadership entail? Let's take a look.
- Share vision and values - Some of the most empowering leadersof in the world has managed to build high-functioning, highly successful teams based on shared vision and values. One of the best examples of such a leader is Steve Jobs. His vision for a new technologically-connected world inspired the entire Apple team, and his love of innovation has been evident in the organization's phenomenal growth. Every employee, vendor,and stakeholder share this spectacular vision and the values that drive the organization.
- Facilitate - Empowerment is not merely inspiring a team to take ownership and demonstrate effective leadership. It is about finding the right ways to facilitate the team's success. Some of the most admired business leaders of India believe in this philosophy. To bring out the best in teams and cultivate leadership skills, it is essential to guide them into adding value and provide them with the means to grow with the organization. An empowering leader will encourage employees across verticals and departments to innovate in their areas of operation.
- Communicate – Communication is one of the most important aspects of leadership. To be a successful leader, it is essential to use communication to empower your organization. With the array of digital technologies available, business leaders have come under the spotlight for effectively leading their organizations. This means that organizational leaders can use platforms such as social media to connect with their team members, stakeholders, and audiences alike. In addition, intra-organizational communication sets the tone for goal setting and helps each employee achieve their potential. Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of the Mahindra Group, has set a spectacular example of empowerment through Social Media engagement. Not only does he communicate with industry leaders but he also encourages new entrepreneurs.
- Connect – The growth and success of any business endeavor depend on building a cohesive team. Empowerment is not only for an organization's team leaders, managers, and upper echelons. Every employee must be empowered to contribute actively to innovations and improve business processes. Not only will this bring out the best in each team member, but it will also inculcate values and belonging in the organization. This becomes all the more relevant in the age of remote working. Empowered leaders and employees are united by a vision and can take cohesive action despite geographical distance.
- Invest in training – Empowering leaders like Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman and Managing Director, Bajaj Finserv, firmly believes that training and development of employees is an investment that brings spectacular returns in the form of employee loyalty and business growth. Learning, training, and improving skill sets assure employees that the organization values and empowers them to take on more responsibilities. This helps in aligning their professional goals with the organization's business goals. In the current scenario, when most businesses are going through a digital transformation, empowerment through training could well become the mantra for success. With proper training, businesses can look at developing indigenous digital platforms and systems, cutting down on dependencies.
- Learn from success and failure – Setting realistic expectations is vital to inspiring and empowering leadership. However, driving teams and employees to set unreasonable goals is bound to affect their morale and lead to disappointment. Instead, an empowering leader helps team members analyze successes and failures and use the learnings to grow. Rewarding successes, even small achievements, can boost team morale. While this is true, failures should not be taboo. In fact, they should be considered part of learning and growing.
- Invite feedback – Shying away from criticism could be one of the greatest mistakes that a business leader can make. Cultivating an organizational environment in which constructive criticism and feedback are welcomed helps empower employees and leaders. It opens avenues for dialogue, discussion, improvement, and innovation. It encourages every team member to speak up and participate in business decisions. Some of the top Indian leaders like N R Narayana Murthy of Infosys are known for having an open door and transparent 180° feedback policy.
Research shows that empowered employees and team members feel more comfortable in their work environment and are more creative. Empowering and grooming business leaders to take ownership can boost productivity and help an organization achieve its business goals. This will also help the organization attract better talent and establish its brand identity as the most sought-after employer.