Creating a climate in which people are fully engaged and feel in control of their own lives is at the heart of strengthening others.
When we enable people to take ownership of and responsibility for their group’s success we enhance their competence and confidence in their abilities. When we listen to their ideas, involve them in important decisions, and acknowledge and give credit for their contributions, we foster empowerment through the organization.
Leadership experts and authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner refer to the Power Paradox in their leadership books. They believe that when you give your own power away, you live the Power Paradox, which replaces an old leadership style of employing force with demonstrating empathy and modesty. They state this happens when you give your own power away.
As I was preparing to write this, I reflected on comments others have told me about how their leader(s) gave away power. They told me things like, “I was able to make decisions about key aspects of the project,” and “All the financial data was shared with me,” or “I was able to exercise my discretion about how we handle a delicate situation.” My favorite was, “My manager publicly expressed confidence in my ability to handle the assignment,” demonstrating both encouragement and trust.
These are examples of what giving power away means. The bottom line is, feeling powerful–literally feeling able–comes from a deep sense of being in control of your own life. We all share this fundamental need. Let’s remember to practice the Power Paradox, the stronger the members- the stronger the team — and the greater the impact the organization can make on those it serves.