Empower to Influence Change

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It’s a tough time to live in Los Angeles. No, I’m not talking about the World Series, although my heart goes out to Dodger fans. It is the seemingly endless sexual harassment revelations coming out of Hollywood. While I’ve come to dread what I may find in the LA Times each morning, at the same time, I’m glad to see that this issue is finally getting the attention and action it deserves. But it would not have happened were it not for a few extraordinarily brave women and men who came forward, despite the potential for grave personal consequences and the very real risk that they would be ignored (as some of them were initially). These courageous individuals empowered many others to come forward, and each case is being taken very seriously. Changes are being made to improve the environment in which these talented professionals work, and hopefully those in positions of power in Hollywood will themselves be empowered to ensure those changes stick, the culture actually does shift and it is truly THE END of such intolerable behavior.

Empowerers understand that when they provide resources, authority and the opportunity to contribute (or speak up) to others, the confidence of those individuals increases and they take initiative to make decisions, solve problems and improve their lives. Their competency increases, as does their sense of fulfillment. Those who score high in the empowering trait (Keller et al, 2014):

  • Understand their relationship with power and do not misuse it.
  • Balance delegation with just the right amount of support.
  • Encourage others to achieve on multiple levels.
  • See people as an organization’s greatest asset.
  • “Lead from behind” and know that their success greatly multiplies when their people succeed.

Lao Tzu said it best: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.”

There isn’t really a down side to empowering others if that is what you are truly doing and you can maintain it. Don’t confuse empowerment with an eagerness to please. Have an awareness of when you may be tempted to take control, take credit or disappear when your support is needed.

Do your team members feel empowered by you? Consider taking some time to find out and learn what you are doing well and where you could improve. If you don’t have a team at work, what about your family? Do you empower your spouse or partner? Your kids? There are many opportunities to practice empowering others. What will you do?

About Jeannie Phillips

Jeannie Phillips, PhD, ACC, is a Senior Affiliate Coach for Core Impact Coaching specializing in leadership development with over twenty years of corporate experience leading projects, people and the development and execution of strategy. She is also owner of J. R. Phillips Leadership Coaching focused on transforming technical experts into influential leaders.

Jeannie is a coach for Women for Change Coaching Community (W4C3), a nonprofit organization with a mission to make coaching accessible to all women.

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On November 14, 2017
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