By Tom Kukla
"The first step in helping another person’s ability to achieve is to help them believe they can."
Successful leaders ask themselves two questions:
• Am I developing my potential as a leader?
• Am I developing others to reach their full potential?
Successful empowering leaders take this thought process one step farther and ask themselves another question:
• Am I bringing my people up around me?
Harvey Firestone said, “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.” The good news is the growth, development, and empowerment of our people has benefits far beyond the employee herself!
Employee empowerment is simply the process of giving front-line employees the authority to make decisions once reserved only for managers. Companies with an empowering leadership mindset are getting all employees, not just managers, actively involved in the business processes. Employees typically feel more of a sense of ownership and worth when entrusted to make decisions typically reserved for the boss. This, in turn, makes them more productive and frees up their manager who can now focus on more complex issues.
When leaders and managers seek to empower their employees, they will gain their loyalty. Employees will give their leaders, and the company, their best when they are listened to and respected. Without fear of reprisal, all employees will be creative and innovative. Finally, loyal employees are a huge asset when dealing with customers.
Self-Assess Your Own Empowering Leadership Skills
Becoming an effective empowering leader takes time and an intentional mindset – it does not just happen. The first step to becoming an empowering leader is to determine if you have the appropriate mindset to do so. There are multiple areas you should evaluate yourself on.
You can use the following 10-question assessment to evaluate your potential as an empowering leader. Rate yourself for each question from a 1 to a 10, with 1 being “never” and 10 being “always.” Add the ratings for each question to give you your total Empowering Leadership Potential score. A perfect score would be 100.
Recognize strength areas as well as areas for development. Once you have your score, see where you fall on the Empowering Leadership Spectrum Scorecard below. Follow the leadership coaching tips for each section to not only improve your score but to build your empowering leader mindset.
Empowering Leadership Self-Assessment
1. Do I believe in people and feel they are an organization's most appreciable asset? ____
2. Do I feel that team leadership can accomplish more than individual leadership? ____
3. Do I look for potential leaders and quickly assimilate them into the organization? ____
4. Do I desire to raise others above my own level of leadership? ____
5. Do I invest time developing people that have leadership potential? ____
6. Do I enjoy watching others get credit for what I taught them? ____
7. Do I allow others the freedom of personality and process or do I have to be in control? ____
8. Do I give my influence publicly to potential leaders as much as possible? ____
9. Do I plan to have others take my present position? ____
10. Do I hand the leadership baton off to a teammate and truly root for him or her? ____
Empowering Leadership Potential Score: ___________
Empowering Leadership Spectrum Scorecard
If you scored 100 – Congratulations! You are an Empowering Leader!
Leadership Coaching Tip: Commit yourself to developing leaders who empower others as opposed to only developing followers.
• Identify potential leaders
• Assess their leadership talents and learning style preferences
• Develop a plan for their growth
If you scored 90 to 99, give yourself a pat on the back. You are well on your way to becoming an empowering leader.
Leadership Coaching Tip: Focus on your weakest area of development.
• Develop a plan just addressing that skill set. Include:
o Reading leadership articles / books specific to your area of development
o Keep a journal of weekly activity towards improvement. Be intentional about growth
o Work with a mentor
• Reassess your rating in 6 months
If you scored 75 to 90, you have built the foundation of effective leadership. Examine areas where you need to strengthen.
Leadership Coaching Tip: Focus on your two weakest areas of development + one strength area.
• Develop a growth plan for each of the 3 areas, with specific milestones, to include:
o Selected readings focused on leadership and growth
o Three additional activities per week where you specifically address each of the three areas you are working on
o Meeting with a mentor monthly to keep you accountable to your growth plan
• Reassess your rating in 3 months
If you scored 50 to 74, you are doing OK as a leader, but you have the potential to do much better.
Leadership Coaching Tip: Focus on two strength areas plus one of your areas of development.
• Develop a growth plan, with the help of your supervisor, for each of the three areas that includes:
o Selected readings on leadership and growth
o Add three activities per week where you specifically address each of the three areas you are working on
o Meeting with your supervisor weekly to assess your progress and to keep you accountable to your growth plan
• Reassess your rating in 3 months
If you scored below 50, you have a lot of work to do as a leader. The good news is, you can practice these skills at work, at home, and in the community.
Leadership Coaching Tip: Identify your career aspirations and determine where you want to be in the next 12 – 36 months. Do your aspirations include a role as a single contributor or a leadership position?
• Develop a career development plan with your supervisor that is focused on your career aspirations.
• Reassess your rating in 12 months
Tom Kukla is principal and founder of Credere Leadership. Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org.