|Many of us keep ourselves preoccupied thinking it would be great if we were more empowered in our jobs. This is a hopeful aspiration that misses the point. Empowerment comes from within ourselves and cannot be granted by another. It can, of course, by blocked by another but that’s a temporary situation at worst that may merit a change of scenery. That’s not where we recommend you begin your empowerment inquiry.
How do we empower ourselves with or without others seemingly holding us back?
1. Add Value! Look and listen for what is wanted and needed in your sphere of responsibility and be sure to provide value that your customers will experience as good news. Develop an attitude that focuses on and delivers good news as a reflection of your commitment to contribute versus complain.
2. Produce Results! Nothing will enhance your credibility better than adding value that improves the performance of your organization. Take the time to learn how your organization’s success and profitability are connected to what you are doing. Recommend, negotiate, and implement improvements to how you are providing value to your external customers. Be coachable until you find your opportunities.
3. Establish Credibility! Engage in conversations that highlight your value and contribution in the spirit of powerful humility. Give credit to anyone you have found helpful when implementing improvements and achieving results, but do not be afraid to ask for feedback when you believe you are doing well.
4. Make a Powerful Offer! Listen to your own heart about the larger contribution that would inspire you to step up to greater responsibility – in your existing role or in another role. Think through how this could be a winning proposition for the organization. Clarify your ideas with those you need input and a decision from. Write up a one page proposal and ask for time to share it.
5. Continue Your Journey! Never allow delays or disappointments to diminish your highest aspirations. Let everyone and every event coach you to learn, improve, and keep up with steps 1-4 until you find yourself doing what you want to do and feeling recognized as a valuable member of your team – and loving your work!
What if you are the CEO or hierarchical leader who wants others to step up as more empowered contributors?
1. Share the Opportunity! Speak with your people about your vision for the organization and what you need from them. People often need an invitation to rise above where they have learned to hold themselves back. Do not underestimate the hesitation that comes from their past experiences.
2. Ask for Coaching! There are usually two reasons people do not step up: their baggage with past authority figures, and any observations or interpretations they make about your leadership style. You will get a better response to your invitations to step up if you ask for feedback on your leadership style. Proactively let them know you are aware of your moments of distressed communication and that they are not a reflection of your highest intentions.
3. Make Large Requests! Challenge your people to stretch into their next level of contribution with your support. Be sure to assess their readiness and interest, but keep pursuing your commitment to excellence with challenges to the status quo that are just beyond people’s emerging abilities.
4. Provide Support! People need tools, coaching, and barriers removed if you want them to step up. Facilitate these conversations with a combination of empathy and tough love. See who has the energy and potential to become a key part of your emerging vision.
Continue Your Journey! Never allow delays or disappointments to diminish your highest aspirations. Let everyone and every event coach you to learn, improve, and keep up with steps 1-4 until you find the right people doing what’s needed to create the organization you are committed to – and love your work!