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Leading by Example: How to Increase Employee Empowerment

As a leader, you’re in an incredible position to contribute to the success of your employees, as well as create an environment that promotes, encourages, and nurtures employee empowerment. By empowering employees, you give them the freedom to flex their innovative and leadership “muscles” and reach beyond a typical organization’s hierarchical constraints.

Here are some of the ways that you can begin encouraging employees to grow beyond their existing limitations:

Establish an Employee-First Culture That Promotes Employee Empowerment

Big Think expert and entrepreneur Kip Tindell says that creating an employee-first culture by empowering employees to choose how they achieve company goals leads to long-term business gains and success. In this case, employee empowerment is giving employees the ability to choose their “means to the end” so that they can accomplish goals in the best way that fits their individual needs. This is the type of employee-first culture and environment that he helped to create at the Container Store.
In an interview with Big Think+, Tindell shared why he thought this type of business model at the Container Store was so successful:

“the employees are so proud of these philosophies. They’re so proud to be working for a kind of a values-driven organization. The other thing is that in this conscious capitalism model where you’re balancing the needs of all stakeholders, not just the shareholder, the employees, the community the environment, the vendors, you can’t tell the difference between the vendors and employees at The Container Store. We forge these incredible relationships with our vendors that give us a huge competitive advantage.”

Delegate Leadership Opportunities

If you’re trying to figure out how to motivate employees and inspire them, one way to accomplish this is to let them see what’s possible through an employee leadership development program. This type of program provides the framework for providing formal and informal leadership, growth, and training opportunities. By empowering employees to explore their leadership capabilities, you demonstrate your faith in them and make them feel important in their roles.

Demonstrate Trust and Confidence in Your Employees’ Abilities

Part of empowering employees is demonstrating that you trust them to do the right thing and make good decisions. It’s also trusting that when they make mistakes, they will learn from them and grow. An article in Forbes supports this idea, saying that you can do this by giving your employees generous boundaries that neither micromanages them nor gives them free reign.
Furthermore, encouraging employee empowerment shows that you believe in them. This support gives them the confidence to embrace their strengths and try new things — which helps you to discover what each person does best and identify areas in which they can grow. It also contributes to creating a sense of camaraderie and foster a supportive environment that helps them to believe in and support each other.
Big Think expert and Duke University Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics Dan Ariely also says that’s it’s all too common for employees to work in an environment that squashes their motivation. Their time and efforts go unappreciated when they put together presentations that never get presented, work on projects that get canceled halfway through, and completed projects disappear into a black hole.
In a Big Think interview, Ariely says:

“So lesson number one is stop crushing people’s spirit. And, you know, it might seem like a ridiculous, obvious thing to do, but if you look at lots of companies, you’ll see lots of places where — not because people intend to do harm but just because we don’t truly appreciate where meaning comes to life — we do lots of those things.”

Provide a Platform or Channel Through Which to Learn and Grow

Empowering employees by helping them learn through the experience of “taking the wheel” and demonstrate their leadership skills on the job is critical. However, another way to help them learn and grow is to provide them with the resources and means to do so.
Employee empowerment requires personal and professional development training to help them become more knowledgeable, skilled, productive, and overall competent individuals. These growth and learning opportunities can be provided in many ways, including through:

  • Face-to-face training,
  • Online webinars,
  • Blended learning courses,
  • Video learning programs, and
  • Mentorships.

One of the advantages of providing these training opportunities is that in addition to empowering employees, they also help to increase collaboration, attract and retain new talent, create an internal leadership pipeline.

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