Leaders lead and managers manage. There is a definite difference between the two: managers direct while leaders motivate and inspire their employees. In the business world there are managers who are not leaders and leaders who are not managers.
Ideally, managers should be leaders, capable of motivating, empowering, securely guiding, and supporting their team to reach greater heights of achievement in whatever task is assigned to them.
An empowered leader is identified by specific characteristics and criteria. The primary goal is to build a highly effective workplace within the organization; the leader’s actions must be consistent to support that end. Positive leadership behavior is the differentiating factor that makes someone highly effective and indispensable to his or her staff and company.
The principles and actions of empowered leadership put the leader’s focus directly on the needs of their team of subordinates to facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals. By focusing on personal empowerment through delegation, leaders can foster outstanding team performance.
Empowered leaders are attuned to the expectations their employees have of them; traditional managers, on the other hand, tend to focus on the specifics of attaining goals and objectives to increase productivity.
A leader’s actions are always directed toward four expectations of their employees: that they build security, practice fairness and justice, focus upon individual fulfillment, and create a sense of personal involvement.
Empowered leaders continually work to create strong, efficient, highly effective workforces that operate in an environment of trust, respect and acceptance. In order to achieve these specific goals, leaders can utilize the principles and actions discussed below.
Move Away from Control and into Empowerment
Effective leaders always apply the principles of empowerment to create a positive workplace environment where the feelings of others are taken into consideration. Many traditional managers, however, have difficulty relinquishing control. This is understandable since a manager’s position often requires strict responsibility and accountability for the results of his or her department.
Before employees are able to embrace the idea of leadership in their workplace, managerial control must evolve into empowerment, motivation and delegation. The outcome of this shift builds a sense of workforce security, involvement and fulfillment that in turn produces increased tangible results. To enact a workable empowerment strategy, leaders must embrace the following guidelines:
- Replace managerial control with actions that emphasize all individual input will be taken seriously and given respectful consideration. Managers often like to play it safe rather than take a risk; however, empowered leaders understand that risk comes with increased opportunity.
- Ask for and accept input, assuring employees that it will be acted upon and that credit will be given where it is due. This technique improves motivation and performance because trust and loyalty are emphasized. Skillfully using delegation and cooperation helps build workplace strength, values and ethics.
- Create a sense of workplace ownership in everything accomplished. Managers often prefer to stifle creativity in the workplace because they don’t want to disrupt the balance; empowered leaders understand that change and progress must come with some risk attached.
Use Motivation to Replace Orders
When it comes to maintaining workforce effectiveness and structure, managers often confuse motivation with the vocal assertions of “cannot,” “will not” and “do not.” In fact, positive motivation focuses on sustaining four primary areas in the workplace: security, fairness and justice, personal fulfillment and individual involvement.
When leaders want to increase workforce performance, commanding and dictating do not produce the same results as motivating individuals. Empowered leaders can take several steps to effectively motivate their employees.
- Learn everything possible about the personalities of employees.
- Apply specific motivational techniques with each individual—not general techniques for all.
- Establish a definite relationship between motivation and personal enhancement.
- Apply motivational techniques consistently.
- Demonstrate the motivational factors of cooperation, determination and persistence along with the feeling of success in daily personal actions. Leaders use their own actions to reinforce and display personal motivation.
Remove Self-Sufficiency and Replace It with Cooperation
Many managers find it difficult to delegate due to the pressures of time, the lack of effective individuals to delegate to, and the presumption that they alone are in the position to know how to get something accomplished in the most effective and competent manner.
Effective leaders, on the other hand, take the following actions to produce a greater cooperative effort and build commitment into the workplace atmosphere:
- Know the right individuals to delegate to. Better cooperation comes with identifying and matching the right abilities and talents to the specific tasks needing delegation. Take the time to discuss expectations, timelines, objectives and support.
- Demonstrate that cooperative efforts create a sense of ownership in projects, and share the responsibility for their outcomes.
- Maintain open lines of communication. Produce a cooperative spirit by seriously accepting employee input.
- Openly share daily successes, even if a success seems small. Encouraging and supporting even minor successes creates a unifying atmosphere of care and cooperation.
Excerpt: Leadership Styles: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2012)