How to Empower Your Team Without ‘Losing Control’ as a Leader

One of the most significant success factors of being a leader is your ability to empower your team to do their best work. 

In the corporate world, empowerment is known to be a bit of a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot with little context or meaning. 

In a nutshell, the purpose of empowerment is to give people a sense of ownership for their role and work. 

Employees that feel they truly ‘own’ their role are generally far more engaged in their work day-to-day, and require less micromanagement and input from the top-down.

While some leaders struggle to empower their people out of fear of losing control, your team are far more likely to succeed if you give them the autonomy to act on their own accord.

So the question remains, how can we as leaders build teams of empowered individuals? 

While it’s not always easy to ‘let go’ and let our employees take the reigns, here we have put together some simple strategies you can use to step back and start letting your team shine. 

One: Give Your Team a Purpose

The most essential element of creating an empowered team is making sure you start with purpose. Purpose ensures everyone is on the same page and moving towards the same set of goals. 

In order to feel empowered your team should understand both the overall purpose of the company, as well as the purpose of their particular role and how this fits into the bigger picture strategy. 

If you can effectively articulate to your team what they do each day actually makes an impact, they will be far more likely to come into work each day feeling intrinsically motivated and inspired to perform. 

Two: Give Your Team a Framework

If you empower your team with absolutely zero structure, you are setting them up to fail. On the flipside, if you empower your team but then continue to micromanage them to a tee, you are not really empowering them at all. 

The key to successfully empowering your team, and setting yourself, the business and your people up to win, is by creating a framework for everyone to follow that creates accountability and clarity. 

A framework should include four key elements: 

A) Outcomes

We need to be intentional as leaders in communicating the desired outcomes and performance measures of any role. There is an important distinction here: outcomes are different from tasks.

Outcomes are the results we expect our team members to achieve – these should then inform the tasks they do each day. 

B) Decisions

Empowerment is actually about the decisions you own, so it is absolutely vital that your team understand the decisions they are able to make. 

If everything your team does has to be double-checked by multiple layers of approvals, or you still expect them to cc you into every email they are sending they are not truly empowered. 

Make sure there’s no ambiguity when it comes to ownership and decision-making by clarifying what exactly they own, and what elements they’ll still need to seek approval for. 

B) The Pillars

The ‘pillars’ refer to the absolute non-negotiables of their role. If we think about their role like the bricks and paint of a house, the pillars represent the bricks. These are the things that absolutely need to be accomplished each week or each month.  Ensuring your team understand the cornerstone elements of their role will create clarity and focus, and stop people getting distracted by the unimportant tasks. 

C)  Freedoms

Now your people know the ‘non-negotiables’, next you have space to talk about freedoms. What scope do they have for implementing new ideas? What are the areas where they can push boundaries? What are some of the things they can challenge?

Encouraging your team to be proactive about improving and changing things, not only empowers them, but also has a positive impact on the business as a whole. 

D) Follow Up 

Lastly, make it clear how you intend to follow up with them and hold them accountable. 

It’s important to find a balance between giving your team autonomy, but also making sure you are still present and aware of how they are moving towards accomplishing business goals. 

Think about how you intend to follow through. What’s the method and rhythm for accountability? What will the check-ins look like? How often are you going to catch up? How will they be held accountable? What will they be held accountable for?

Making sure your team are aware of this, instead of randomly springing accountability meetings on them out of the blue will set them up for success long-term. 

I dive into this topic in more detail in the video below. If empowering your team is important to you this year make sure you take five minutes to watch it.


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