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In the current landscape, organizations like Novo Nordisk are grappling with the concept of empowerment, especially within the framework of a post-pandemic, hybrid, and unpredictable world.
The prevailing wisdom in most books on empowering individuals often advocates for letting go, allowing decision-making, problem-solving, and action-taking without constant oversight.
However, I aim to bring a nuanced perspective to this narrative, one rooted in the insights gleaned from our ongoing Safe to Great research, where we leverage the Growth Mindset Leadership 360 tool.
Amidst the challenges, a crucial issue emerging in leadership is the challenge of distance and distraction. In essence, we are facing a dilemma born out of the physical and emotional gaps that arise in our new working paradigms.
Amidst this, a noteworthy finding surfaces: the individuals who feel most empowered and witness a spike in their productivity are those who perceive their superiors as present, available, and genuinely interested in them.
This connectivity forms the crux of the matter. Empowerment must not translate into detachment, aloofness, or indifference.
An often misconstrued facet of empowerment is the misconception that the pivotal moment is when a task or responsibility is assigned to an employee with minimal guidance or supervision.
While this initial step is vital, the true essence of empowerment unfolds later. The real litmus test comes when employees return with a solution or problem-solving approach that doesn’t align with the leader’s expectations, methods, or quality standards.
This is when the real challenge arises – a moment of truth where leaders need to exercise patience and restraint before reacting.
Empowerment stands incomplete without a parallel strategy for nurturing both the confidence and competence of individuals.
It’s not just about delegating authority; it’s about providing consistent support and constructive feedback. The deficiency in cultivating these aspects often leads to a breakdown in genuine empowerment.
In practice, numerous leaders inadvertently slip into what Ken Blanchard aptly coined as “Seagull” leadership – swooping in, imparting their views, and departing abruptly.
For leaders aspiring to truly empower their teams, here’s my counsel: Delegate responsibilities, but ensure your door remains open for guidance.
Offer constructive feedback, and most importantly, maintain proximity to your team. Genuine empowerment thrives in an environment where a balance is struck between delegation and development.
The journey from safe to great leadership traverses through the heart of empowerment – it’s not about solely giving authority, but about fostering a culture where growth is nurtured, support is extended, and individuals are empowered to rise, contribute, and excel.
Author of Safe2Great, keynote speaker on psychological safety and growth mindset