5 Ways for Leaders to Empower Team Members

Updated Over a Week Ago


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As a leader, how do you see your role in relation to your team? Is your job to make sure they do theirs? Or are you looking for long-term growth that will ultimately raise up other leaders to better the entire company?

It’s tempting to fall into the first role. After all, you are ultimately responsible for meeting your team’s deadlines. Your success relies on other people’s performance, and that’s definitely a risk. In a heartbeat, you can go from easy-going leader to paranoid micromanager.

Eventually, your team becomes less effective because your constant nitpicking makes them second-guess themselves.

In your position, you get to tell other people to do things, and they’re supposed to do them. You can use your role to demonstrate either influence or power. You can crush people or you can lead your team to success as they complete projects, develop confidence, and use your example to develop their own leadership skills for the future.

So what are some good methods for empowering your team?

1. Grant Autonomy

This is the opposite of micromanaging. Give someone a project, be sure they know you’re available to answer any questions or give advice, and then, if the nature of the project allows, let them figure out the execution.

Instead of assigning portions of a project to each person, ask them to work amongst themselves to determine which team members are best equipped to handle each part. You’re showing that you trust your team, which makes you likeable.

You’re encouraging critical thinking, which will develop creativity. You’re increasing their confidence. And best of all, you don’t look like a self-absorbed power hog.

2. Keep Your Office Door Open

Smile. Listen. Help. The best leaders, in a way, are servants; their priority is the well-being of the entire team, not just themselves.

3. Use Your Power for Good

Yes, you’re in charge. So do something great with your authority! Surprise the team with doughnuts for no reason, or bring in a bottle of wine after a successful project completion. Recognize team members for outstanding work and genuinely thank them for making your job easier.

4. Nothing Garners Respect Like Appropriate Humility

If you screw up, own it. If you snap at a team member (even if you feel it’s well-deserved), acknowledge that you should have handled your frustration better. There’s a reason no one likes the proverbial “Miss Perfect;” she sets herself above all others. Be real. Be human.

5. Get Feedback

Ask for ideas and feedback from your team – and when possible, implement them. How does this empower your team?

It shows that when you say the magnanimous “We want to hear your ideas,” you aren’t just trying to make them feel valued; you actually do value them. Show them that they actually have influence. People who participate are people who invest. If you show your team how valuable they are, you’ll see a difference in their performance.

Of course, you must practice successful project management while working with your team in the above capacities. But if you integrate these methods into your leadership responsibilities, you will also contribute to the personal growth of your team members, which, in the long run, will benefit the company as a whole.

How Do You Empower Team Members?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.
  • Scott Simmerman says:

    Nick – Those are great ideas but the basic fallacy is that YOU can actually empower someone else. You really cannot do that, at least directly. I mean, go ahead and empower me to do something… How are you going to do that?

    What you can do is something that operates as Dis-Un-Empowerment. People ARE generally un-empowered and you need to get at those factors to change the balance of consequences or their overall operating environment so that THEY CAN CHOOSE to act in a way that you would term empowered.

    Feedback, communications, peer support / peer pressure, expectations, and all those per-conceived notions that they have about their own personal operating space in their personal workplace need to be addressed. An outsider (someone else) absolutely cannot do that directly and you cannot add things into their systems and processes, since this is a choice that they, and only they, can make.

    Align them to shared goals. Allow them to work as teams. Reduce perceived risk. Improve their knowledge about how things work. Share best practices. Provide coaching and other kinds of perceived management support. Reduce perceived risk / improve perceived intrinsic rewards for change and improvement. Share goals. ALL that stuff!

    What you CAN do, absolutely, is work with them to remove their perceived roadblocks to going more better faster. If they choose NOT to do that, no amount of pushing or pulling will work.

    Empowerment is not something we can DO to others. Dis-Un-empowerment is something that we can approach with them. It is pretty much the precise same thing with engagement, in that you can remove the things they see as un-engaging…

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