*Empowering others to empower yourself By Adunke Olatunji

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To empower, by its definition, means to put power into therefore, empowering people is the process of enabling someone to do something themselves.

How do you empower yourself in life? Do you set goals, record accomplishments, engage in opportunities to stretch your comfort zone, or instill compelling mantras within yourself? What is the difference between empowering yourself and empowering other people?

If you, as a leader, want your team to thrive in the ever-changing business world, you need to become an expert at empowering people. Especially today, when so many organizations worldwide are witnessing employee morale plummet, a leader capable who can empower their people is critical.

Creating an empowered workplace not only spreads the workload throughout your team, but will also cause them to become more engaged with their work, encouraging them to contribute to that innovation. Not only that, but an engaged workforce also helps to build morale. When all parts of an organization are optimistic and enthusiastic about the future of business, companies are much more likely to overcome the current challenges they are facing.

Empowering people means engaging them and cooperating with their needs listening to their ideas, offering feedback, valuing their input. You can greatly motivate your team with these simple strategies which will also have them more inclined to help you reach your goals. Empowering people is critical to building a high-performing team. When you have access to every individual’s knowledge and skills, and you also trust them to do their jobs without you micromanaging, the team becomes much more efficient.

As a good leader, you should be empowering everyone you come into contact with regularly. Obviously your team at work is an important place to start, but empowering people in your family adds the same benefits to your home life.

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One of the key qualities of a leader is their ability to control their emotions and stay calm and collected when faced with hardships. This is especially true today, when many teams are turning to their leaders for the optimism that they are rapidly losing. When it comes to empowering people, you need to maintain positivity at all times. The emotions you express will affect those around you – if you want positive, enthusiastic team members, then you have to show up as positive and enthusiastic yourself.

Be Appreciative of your team
This should be an obvious one, but saying ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Demonstrating appreciation and basic courtesy is critical to empowering people. No matter how small or insignificant the task may be – make sure you’re saying thanks. Acknowledging people’s contributions and efforts are an excellent strategy to building rapport and ultimately, trust.

Ask Them What Their Goals Are
Asking your team what their individual career goals are is foundational when empowering people. First, it shows them that you’re interested in what they hope to achieve, and that you’ll be there to support them. Second, it also forces them to consider their objectives. Many individuals don’t have a career or task-specific goal in mind, and even more are finding it hard to maintain clarity in what those objectives are with the global situation. Encouraging employees to think about both their current and future objectives reminds them to maintain optimism towards what’s ahead for them, giving them a sense of control and choice.

Help Them Find Their Strengths.
An individual’s strengths in the workplace are not just the skills they contribute to any given project or goal – it’s those skills they possess and have yet to discover. Providing opportunities for people to either learn a new skill or realize their hidden strengths or talents can be an incredibly empowering experience for employees.

Lead by Example If you want your team to embrace specific behaviors. One of the least efficient ways to go about encouraging those behaviors is to order them to do it. While you should always keep a clear, stable leadership voice within your organization, very few adults like being told what to do in such a manner, even by their team leader. A much better option is simply to lead by example. Do you want your team to be on time to meetings? Ensure you’re always there early and ready to go. Want them to hit deadlines? Have all your work done on time. Showing how you want something done is much more effective at empowering people than telling them what to do.

Giving Your Team Autonomy is very key in empowering them.
Micromanaging is the opposite of empowering people. Many leaders may be feeling that given the current work from home scenario, and the resulting loss of morale amongst team members, that they have to increase efforts of engaging with their employees directly. While some may benefit from more consistent communication, especially if work has shifted to remote efforts rather than in-office collaboration, you should still aim to give your team space and the time to do their work. This demonstrates that you trust them to get their tasks done, encouraging self-discipline and ultimately leading to more proactive productivity.

Support your team When They’re Struggling
If an employee is struggling, support them. Especially today, employees need guidance and reassurance. Supporting employees through their challenges includes first finding out the cause of the obstacle. Next, figure out how you can help – empowering people isn’t about doing the job for them, but rather helping them overcome their obstacles. This could mean mentoring them, providing some needed time off, or scheduling 1:1 weekly meetings that work through those challenges with coaching.

Support Them When They’re Succeeding
Just as supporting your employees through their struggles is critical to empowering them, so too is demonstrating support through their successes. A common example of this is through recognition – anything from an email congratulating them on a job well done, to a hand-written card, to a monetary bonus, and in some cases even a travel bonus. Public recognition is not only empowering, but makes it far more likely the employee will strive to continue being a good worker, and also demonstrates to others the rewards of a job well done.

Don’t Give Your Team the Answers rather Help Them to Find Them
This is an important point when it comes to empowering people. If you’ve given your team autonomy, and have empowered them to work through tasks on their own, supplying them with answers to every question they have would defeat the benefits of self-discovery. Providing answers is essentially telling them what they need to do, which undermines the whole idea of autonomy, and empowering people.

Manage yourself and point them in the right direction, and encourage them to try and solve the problem on their own. This doesn’t mean you can’t help them out by providing information, tips, or resources, but refrain from giving direct answers. This will encourage their autonomy, and provide them a reason to be proactive in their efforts, ultimately engaging them with their work in a far more direct manner.

If personal contributions can make an impact on the community and the world, just imagine the profound positive change that can occur when an organization not only endorses, but supports its employees in giving back to the community. There is power in numbers, and in business philanthropy, everyone wins.

©️Adunke Olatunji

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