Your organization will never reach its full potential until you turn your people loose to do the job. The three keys to empowering your team are responsibility, authority, and accountability.
It begins with releasing responsibility. This first step is often the easiest. But once you give away responsibility, you have to fight the temptation to take it back. Poor leaders want to micromanage and control every detail of their people’s work. This only frustrates your team and keeps them from growing. If this pattern continues over time, your team will begin to avoid responsibility instead of desiring more of it.
Next you have to give away authority. If you truly want to empower your team, you have to give them the authority to take action. Authority is the power to make and follow through on decisions related to the work that has to be done. In other words, when you release the responsibility of a task to your team, you also have to give them the authority to make decisions and get the job done. It is unfair to hold your team responsible for something that they have no authority to execute. Once responsibility and authority have been given to people, they become empowered to make things happen. Will they make mistakes? Probably. But that’s where coaching and accountability come into the picture.
Accountability is the third key to effective empowerment. Often times we think of accountability in negative terms but it should produce positive effects: better decision making, more cooperation on the team, and higher team satisfaction. In essence, accountability ensures that our teams are making the right things happen.
So, our teams are successfully empowered when they a) have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, b) have the authority necessary to fulfill those responsibilities, and c) are accountable for the outcomes.