“Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
One of the key parts of being a successful leader is empowering your people. People want to feel like they have the authority to tackle problems & develop solutions. They want to feel like you’ll have their back if thing don’t go perfectly.
That’s not news. Most organizations at least give lip service to the idea of allowing their people some autonomy or letting them develop solutions to problems in their segment of the business. I think most leaders understand the theory behind giving people the freedom to bring high value to the organization.
But as one successful leader pointed out to me recently, you can’t just tell them to go be autonomous. You can’t just send unequipped people out into the work place to be innovative and to solve problems. You can’t tell them to just go do it – you have to prepare them to do it.
I’ve seen too many organizations who, in the name of “empowering their people”, tell them to solve problems they don’t have the knowledge or experience or resources (time, money) to solve. Then when those problems don’t get solved, the leaders complain about the people not taking ownership of their work. If your employees aren’t able to solve the problems because you haven’t prepared them to do it, whose fault is that?
What are you doing to prepare your people to be empowered? What are you doing to develop those individuals who you need to lead change initiatives in your organization? It doesn’t just happen over time. It doesn’t just come about because you wished for it. You need to be specific and intentional about how you’re preparing those people.
Do you have a development plan for each of your key people? Do you know what capabilities they’ll need so that you can turn them loose on the world? Do you know how they’re going to develop those capabilities? If you can’t answer those questions affirmatively, then how can you expect them to be able to do it?
Remember that you’re the leader. That means that when your people struggle or don’t accomplish things that the organization needs them to, you need to look in the mirror and ask what you did wrong. Don’t just shove them off the cliff – empower them to fly.