Being an empowering leader is the modern leadership principle

Read Time: 3 Min

I have a little story I share from south of California and what you can learn from that.  And how you can start working on empowering your team

I get a lot of questions and I discuss with my customers around empowerment and sometimes it can be a bit confusing so what is empowerment?  And in some cases, I find that people misunderstand it. It sounds like you're giving away your own power, right? Empowering others doesn't mean that you're taking your power and give it away. As a matter of fact, you increase your power. So, for example, this was in San Diego and I was working with a company there and they were moving some work between the Mexico and US in between. They had a Mexican plant manager coming in and the general manager said to me: “listen, everybody here they will give their life for her”.  I said: What do you mean? That sounds wild. So, he said: “yes, just listen to her”. 

When we were working there, I realized this was a national holiday in Mexico, but the people there were all interacting and she didn't make a single decision without asking her team first. If the team wanted it and she didn't think it was her obvious choice, she still went with their idea. I realized that after a little while, that she was so empowering that she created more power for herself because the loyalty that she had in the team was amazing. The problem with empowerment is often that is hard to explain, because it's such a nice feeling. When you feel empowered, you just feel like you're in your right element. You can do what you want, you are trusted, you know you have all that around you, but to feel that opposite of empowerment, like this empowerment, that's so clear. What is missing then? 

Sometimes it's good to go back and think about what are the situations where I felt like something was wrong. I wasn't trusted. I wasn't able to do what I should do, et cetera. Think about what happened there. I think those situations tell you the opposite empowerment. It will help you a lot to empower others later after that. Remember that story, she built the loyalty and power because the people around her, they worked so hard because they felt so good. Just in her presence, from her trust and her willingness to let them do the work, that they were suitable to do it. Of course, if you can't do the work, you don't want to have the task to do it. In their case, it was obvious that they were skilful people.

Have you experienced a disempowering situation where you couldn't perform, like you wanted? Let me know, tell me the story. 

Johan Majlov, Founder & CEO Lean Dimensions International
[email protected]


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