My colleague and I recently came out of a workshop in one of the companies we work with just over the moon. We had observed in action real empowerment and it was a delight.
There were a group of team leaders who were asked to state what they wanted to do to improve their area, and what they needed to achieve it. There were several senior managers present, and all of them without exception validated the team leaders’ statements of intent, encouraged them to look at what they could do, and agreed to back them if they needed it.
The team leaders were clear about what would make a difference, knew what needed to be done, and had thought about how to approach it.
It was a room full of people working together like grown-up’s and it was significant in the growth of that company.
This is not something that happens out of the blue. This company has been working with us on the way its leaders lead, the way people are kept informed and involved, the approach they take to change, and the way people are motivated to step up and take an active part in what happens.
It takes a while to get this stuff into the muscle of both the leaders and those who work with them. We are talking about changing people’s beliefs about how people work effectively, what being the leader means in practice, how much control is needed and what people are capable of.
The first step is to get intellectual acceptance, and that can take a while. But more important than that, is getting people to buy into it at a heart level, and that requires different evidence. It is a gradual process of continuing to encourage people to try things out, to have another go, to be straight with each other, and to notice where it works rather than where it is not yet taking hold.
We are delighted to have been able to help create the environment where genuine empowerment is beginning to be the norm, and honour those leaders who have had the courage to step out and make it happen, keeping going until the fruits begin to show.
If you want your people to be genuinely empowered, don’t give up! The persistence pays off.