Being a leader is about more than just taking charge of employees. You have to lead a team by example and support your team members to ensure everyone reaches their potential. It doesn’t matter if your team is big or small, if you are the founder of a start-up or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, empowering those who you supervise makes you, and the team as a whole, better.
In order to truly empower your employees, you have to trust them. You hired them because you thought they were a great fit for the job, now you have to let them do it. Executive Kris Thorkelson says that leaders must “entrust the talents and skills of the team you have built.” After all, “no one person can run an entire business by themselves!” Letting go of some control boosts your team’s confidence and can help you all come up with new ideas you may not have considered had you used a less open management approach.
Showing appreciation for your staff is one of the easiest ways to make them feel empowered. A simple “thank you” or “nice work” can go a long way during a stressful project. Let your team know that they are not just workhorses who do all of the tasks you don’t want to do. Praise their strengths and treat them once in awhile with a kind word or a small gesture (like donuts at the office). Author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy notes that “the more you thank other people for doing things for you, the more things those other people will want to do.” Similarly, you can avoid sucking the energy out of your staff by staying positive at work and showing enthusiasm.
As a leader, don’t forget to take some time to get to know each of your team members individually. Taking a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives makes you more compassionate and makes them more likely to come to you with issues. To start, ask each employee what their vision is for their career. According to performance strategist Laura Garnett, “having your people know the direction they want to steer themselves not only improves efficiency but is also an easy way to ensure they are learning to motivate themselves.” Once your staff knows where they are going professionally, you can gauge how to best use their talents and motivations in the workplace.
Leading a team successfully means figuring out how to harness the strengths and knowledge of your staff to get the best possible outcome. In order to do this, you have to empower your team. Giving them the tools and support to be their best, rather than ruling with an iron fist, is essential to both morale and results. When your team does well, you shine as a leader, which will boost your success as well.