August 11, 2011

The other side of the coin of empowerment

The other day, I talked a bit about your responsibility as the empowered person. Essentially, if you have been given permission, you must make the difference that you feel is necessary to make, because it is yours to own.

On the other side of the coin, if you are the one giving permission, you must be cautious when decisions are made that you don't totally agree with. Losing your cool for even a second tears apart the confidence of your team, and will ensure there are long lines of people waiting to get your approval on every action except the most common and safest courses of action.

Fear is what prevents people from making the difference and doing what is right. Big change cannot be made in the absence of risk. You need people willing to push as hard as they can to the edges, working to see the vision you have cast reach fruition.

This isn't to say that the person who has been empowered should not be coached, taught, and mentored. In fact, this is also a responsibility of the person giving the power. If someone makes a mistake, explain to them what happened, forgive them, and move on. And, even though a mistake was made, end the conversation celebrating the fact that they made the decision and moved forward because they felt the course of action they took was the right thing to do.

If you don't do this, if you react out of anger or frustration, people will become afraid of making the important decisions, and you will completely hamper your potential and theirs.

If you are the one relinquishing power, trust your team, focus on the hard work you have to complete, and take advantage of the teachable moments.

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