Most people think leadership is about leaders taking action, making decisions, inspiring a group of people, and getting things done by their employees.
Most leadership methods focus on leaders’ character, knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise.
But they don’t understand the importance of employee involvement in successful leadership. They don’t realize the outcomes that can be driven through a leadership method that involves everyone apart from the leaders.
The empowering leaders understand the value of empowering the employees and giving them the authority to take free actions.
Empowering leadership structure puts forward a broader sense of leadership where leaders and everybody in the group are given the independence necessary to work to the best of their potential.
What is Empowering Leadership
Empowering leadership is fundamentally derived from the two ideas. They are; having trust in the employees and give them authority to make decisions.
The Empowering leadership method appeals to the leaders to entrust their faith in their employees and give them the freedom to make decisions. It urges leaders to empower their subordinates and allow them to take ownership of their work.
Instead of just delivering orders to their employees, the leaders act as resources that provide full support, guidance, and tools necessary to fulfill their tasks.
When employees enjoy autonomy in their workplace, they work with more confidence, efficiency, and genuine care. This increases productivity improves employee happiness, and refines the workplace culture making it a healthier workplace.
Empowering leadership also saves time by reducing the obstacles in the process of productivity caused by formal restrictions put on due to a lack of trust.
Characteristics of Empowering Leadership
Characteristics of empowering leaders overlap with characteristics that other leaders possess. But there are some distinctions empowering leaders have to keep in their attributes.
Let’s look at some of the defining characteristics of empowering leaders:
Since empowering leaders have to empower, inspire, and bring all together to achieve their common objectives, they can clearly explain their visions and goals to their employees.
The empowering leaders understand that to comprehensively explain their goals, objectives, and visions. Leaders should clearly understand their visions at first so they can motivate their employees the same.
Empowering leaders can communicate well with their subordinates and inspire them to work together for a purpose.
The leaders take the initiatives to improve communication in the group. They try to find new ways and technologies for effective communication and implement them to remove barriers and bottlenecks for open communication.
Delegating Tasks Effectively
Empowering leaders effectively and wisely delegate tasks to their employees shows leaders trust their employees. When employees realize their leaders trust them, they take their jobs seriously and work more confidently and honestly.
Giving Importance to Employees
Empowering leaders don’t just rely on themselves to make changes but also give importance to others.
They believe everybody has something to offer for the common group objective. They understand that each one of the employees has the potential worth contributing to the group’s performance.
Apart from trusting employees and giving them the freedom to take free action, leaders need to appreciate their employees’ hard work.
They show appreciation and give rewards if an employee has contributed to the group, even on a smaller scale.
Advantages of Empowering Leadership
Empowering leadership benefits the organization by making the workplace culture more supportive of employees and leaders. Let’s look at some key advantages of empowering leadership:
Increases Innovation Performance
When leaders give their employees authority to make decisions and take ownership of their actions, they feel more comfortable generating unique ideas and putting them into practice.
When they realize they have their leaders’ trust, they take their jobs seriously and hence don’t hesitate to try out creative ideas and strategies to make their projects successful. All these enhance the innovation performance of the team and the organization.
Promotes Leadership Traits
Leaders show their team members how to improve their personalities and grow as leaders through their leadership, where they don’t do everything themselves but also give their team members opportunities to learn.
In the long run, this helps the organization by providing the best leaders who have learned and grown naturally on their strengths, ability, and practice.
Allowing employees to generate ideas independently, implement them independently, and take ownership of their work will boost innovation performance and employee efficiency rate. These both factors increase the productivity of the organization.
Improves Communication Skills
When leaders give their employees opportunities to take the lead in the group, they discuss their ideas, plans, programs, and strategies with more responsibility. This adds confidence to their speech and improves their communication skills.
In empowering leadership structures, employees come up with many ideas that were not tried before, and the leaders accept them and estimate the possible outcomes of implementing those ideas.
This develops a habit of changing their temperament according to the situation. This helps them get most of what they want to achieve their results.
In most types of leadership, employees have to depend upon their leaders or higher apex body for every development or decision. This becomes a barrier to growth, learning, and effective performance in the team.
However, empowering leadership removes unnecessary formalities and allows everyone to take steps and work independently.
Empathy in Leaders
Leaders empower their employees, give them opportunities to learn, and become strengths to their weaknesses.
This makes employees feel more trusted and empathized by their leaders.
They allow them to make mistakes and don’t intercept them when working. They appreciate their employees’ best performances and show them what needs further improvement.
This humble attitude helps empower leaders to develop their empathy skills.
Empowering Leadership Examples
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing empowering leadership.
Everybody in the workplace has a role in promoting empowering leadership, including management, leaders, and employees.
Role of Leaders
Let’s discuss in detail what roles and responsibilities leaders have for promoting empowering leadership:
Facilitates work processes
One of the most important things organizations must do is make sure that they make their strategies and working processes easier and “as simple as possible to follow” for their employees.
Facilitation refers to developing a strategy and setting up a course of action that is helpful for both fulfilling common objectives and making the work process simple.
The work process should focus more on how to work and how to help workers in the process to make them achieve the common objectives rather than what to do.
Makes life easier
Leaders give their employees comfortable and flexible schedules, offer breaks in between, and give them time to volunteer for tasks rather than pushing them forcefully.
Leaders who want to empower their employees also care about their personal lives and provide facilities like health allowances and offer perks and bonuses for extra time work.
Helps build the team
The leaders don’t let their group members scatter and lose integrity. Whenever a conflict arises, they try to resolve it and find solutions for their problem.
They try to satisfy everybody in the group and ensure the members are not exceeding the limits of healthy competition.
Trust abilities of subordinates
Leaders don’t build trust based on wrong foundations. For example, there are different kinds of trust, such as deterrence-based, identification-based, etc. Leaders choose the right characteristics to gain people’s trust.
They choose knowledge-based or character-based trust to exemplify effective organizational leadership. This improves trust abilities in employees as well as promotes empowering leadership.
Role of an Organization
Now let’s discuss what an organization should do and what facilities it should provide for its people to promote empowering leadership:
Several organizations consider not revealing important information to their employees. But sometimes this information can be important and useful for their employees.
When employees know their customers’ interests and preferences, they can plan, estimate, and work creatively according to them.
It also boosts confidence in employees when they know they are working based on their customers’ interests.
This also ensures the organization trusts their employees, which is an essential part of empowering leadership.
As we discussed above, leaders should facilitate the work process for their subordinates, and the organization should also support facilitation. Facilitation helps empower the employees and leads to better organizational outcomes.
Has new operational guidelines
Leaders need to be a little flexible when it comes to making rules, regulations, and policies for their employees.
The organization should give their employees a chance to voice forth their opinions and concerns before making decisions. This builds trust in employees and opens the way for the growth of empowering leadership.
Rewards responsible ownership
Though trust is one of the most important pillars of empowering leadership, it involves a lot of different things. Empowering leadership will not function if employees don’t understand the value of trust and take ownership of their tasks.
Therefore organizations should appreciate and set examples when an employee makes an effort to fulfill his/her trust demands by taking responsible ownership of the tasks. The organization can award such an employee by adding bonuses, allowances, and other facilities.
Can change old hierarchies
In the old traditional hierarchical system, the leaders who are considered the think tanks of the organization sit at the top while leaving the whole work in the hands of employees who don’t have the right to plan and think.
But in contrast, the Empowering leadership method urges everyone to involve themselves in both the decision-making process as well as the working process.
Recognize new relationships
For recognizing and developing new relationships, leaders start by trusting their employees, giving them responsibilities, and appreciating them publicly after completing tasks. They give them verbal, written, and rewards in the form of bonuses.
When employees feel they are recognized and cared for by their leaders, they empower themselves and share their contributions to developing empowering leadership.
Role of Employees
Promoting and implementing empowering leadership does not just rely on leaders and organizations.
This method also benefits employees along with the organization. Therefore employees should also share their contributions to promote empowering leadership.
Let’s discuss some responsibilities and to-do lists for employees to promote empowering leadership:
Employees who understand the value of empowering leadership seek responsibilities of tasks and fulfill them to the best of their abilities. They are loyal to the promise that they make in the beginning when they get hired.
They don’t wait for their leaders to point out every step of the process. Rather they take their jobs seriously and completely involve themselves in the working process.
They understand the value of trust that their leaders showed them as part of empowering leadership and try to live up to that trust.
Takes prudent risks
In empowering leadership, employees learn to take ownership of their tasks. However, it does not mean they take random decisions or risks. They put their company’s interests in front of them before making decisions.
They discuss with their fellow employees and make decisions based on common consent. They take prior steps and measures to protect their companies from any kind of danger.
In short, they ensure their decisions don’t disappoint their companies.
Has a personal stake in his work
The employees need to show their complete involvement in the working process and strategy-making process and take the objective of the company as their objective.
Employees should associate their interests with those of their companies. They must share their efforts, emotions, skills, and contributions with their leaders to accomplish the company’s goals.
Employees in empowering leadership do not lie behind in accepting the responsibilities. They don’t just stick to a formal set of duties but also take responsibility for additional tasks necessary for the company’s growth.
They set examples for others and prove to their leaders that they are responsible, accountable, ambitious, and care for the company’s goal.
Employees working under empowering leadership are decisive. They can make quick decisions regarding their group’s events and tasks. They keep everybody’s interests in mind and make sound decisions that benefit their collective group objective.
In empowering leadership, employees consider generating ideas collectively by sitting together to discuss ideas. They generate ideas associatively and try to imagine the conclusion of implementing those ideas.
Finally, based on the common group consent, they put their ideas to the test to benefit and improve their company’s standards.
Qualities Needed to Develop Trust
Since we are discussing empowering leadership, we should look at building and establishing trust in the working community. After all, trust is the essential element of empowering leadership.
In most organizations, leaders and their followers focus on a few elements when it comes to having trust. Employees and leaders should both adopt or improve those characteristics to build strong trust among each other. Let’s discuss some of those qualities below:
Benevolence refers to the act of being kind to the fellow-people. The term benevolence has a broader meaning, and in regards to empowering leadership, it refers to the spirit of being helpful toward fellow workers.
Leaders or employees who want to build trust are genuine in helping one another without expecting anything in return. They are kind to people in the working community and their jobs and responsibilities.
The empowered individuals should be able to deliver satisfactory results in a defined period and a specific environment. They should be able to complete the tasks within a defined set of rules and regulations.
To prove that they are trustworthy and can fulfill the organization’s expectation, the leaders, employees, and managers need to be competent in their skills, knowledge, experiences, and leadership qualities.
People trust honest and sincere people with their jobs, responsibilities, and concerns of their fellow workers.
They keep themselves away from any sort of dishonesty and advantages that are driven through any kind of deception. These attributes make people trust them.
The empowered individuals are open-minded and receptive to different ideas, opinions, and arguments without being judgemental or putting restrictions. They appreciate ideas and don’t underestimate anybody.
They consider maintaining transparency in the group about the information the group members are working on. People gain trust in a transparent leader or an individual more effectively than those who hide knowledge and information.
Many think empowering leadership takes away respect from leaders, making them equal to their employees, which is untrue. Empowering leadership increases the trust between the leader and employees. People respect and follow those individuals who are trustworthy.
Apart from adding respect, the empowering leadership structure allows leaders to recognize the right talents among several employees.
When leaders combine the right talent with the right work and assign all employees tasks based on their skills and talents, they can provide better results.
Empowering leadership has many other advantages, and the biggest advantage is creating high-performance teams in the organization through spreading trust among people.
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“Vision, strategy, and inspiration – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of “TheLeaderboy” dedicated to leadership and personal development. As a self-taught practitioner, I have been studying the principles of effective leadership for the past decade and my passion lies in sharing my insights with others. My mission is to empower individuals to become better leader