Of all leadership values, few can have as positive an impact on the culture and performance of a team than that of empowerment. Empowerment sees the transfer of authority and responsibility transferred from one leader to another. And when you have a team of truly empowered leaders, the results can be tremendously impactful.
The challenge can be in understanding how to move beyond the value of empowerment, and to the actual practice of empowerment. In other words, leaders are often left to ask, “How do I put the Power in Empowerment?”
That question takes me back to a time when I was the recipient of such empowerment.
I had joined the staff of a church of about 2500 people in the role of executive pastor. To ensure my success, the senior pastor had done far more than simply given me an important sounding title, a lofty place in our organization chart, and a corner office.
He went to great lengths to ensure I was fully empowered to carry out the leadership assignment I had been given.
Specifically, he practiced three critical empowerment principles:
Empowerment requires public affirmation
In my first meeting with the full staff, the senior pastor placed his hand on my shoulder and said, “Team, I want you to know that when Scott speaks, he is speaking for me. He carries the same weight as when you are talking to me.”
Immediately the entire team knew that I had been fully empowered to take on this role.
Empowerment requires development
While he believed in my ability to grow into the role, he also knew that he had a responsibility to provide me with ongoing, consistent coaching.
Every week we would meet to discuss my progress, my decisions, my challenges and my successes. Everything became a coaching moment.
The reason for this was simple; he knew that in order to empower me to be successful in the role, it meant he had to invest his time, expertise and experience into me.
Empowerment requires development.
Empowerment requires backup
Even when I had made a bad call, the senior pastor never chastised me publicly. In private he would certainly make sure I had learned from the misstep, but in public he made it clear that I had his full support.
As leaders, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to close the power chasm between ourselves and those we lead.
To do so requires more than good intentions. It requires purposeful action steps.
Try implementing the steps taken by my senior pastor.
Because the value of empowerment is of no value without the practices of empowerment.