Empowering and motivating: an effective leadership approach | Sunday Observer

Empowering and motivating: an effective leadership approach

12 September, 2021

Empowering is a model of leadership with the process of extending influence in the form of independence to employees to motivate them. Leaders who trust employees genuinely empower their employees or subordinates by providing autonomy support and development support to them to perform more effectively. 

Leadership is a concept. It is not a position, person, or place. The leader and the leadership are two different aspects. Leaders are the actual individuals who make decisions, take risks on the decisions made, and take responsibility for the consequences. Hence, a sense of hesitancy exists in many leaders to empower subordinates despite the effectiveness of the style. 

Leadership is a process that often arises in informal situations as a result of necessity or in pursuit of achievement. Usually, people associate the leadership with an assigned or designated position. In reality, leadership is not related to a particular individual who leads a team but how he or she approaches his followers to pursue a common goal.

Empowerment is incorporating the team in a participatory role in decision-making based on the expertise of individual team members. The leader, however, must be aware of the individual’s judgment capacity to avoid negative repercussions. 

Why is empowerment done?

Why empower the team members? The answer is very clear. No leader can lead an organisation through his or her individual excellence. It is the collective effort of the whole team that takes an organisation to success. Leaders have to rely on the diverse talents and skills of subordinates. Therefore, mentoring, coaching, and empowerment are the key ingredients in successful leadership. 

At some point or the other, everyone is empowered by leaders in employment to a certain extent. However, the level of empowerment depends on the leader’s approach to the staff. A good leader always identifies the individual excellence of the team members and provides opportunities to take on responsibility. Giving power to the employees can build unwavering mutual trust and boost up the confidence of the team members.  

A captaincy of a professional rugby football team is one of the best examples I can cite for the effectiveness of empowering and motivating leadership. The game is popularly known as a game of hooligans played by gentlemen because of their physical endurance. 

In my long experience as a rugby fan, I have seen captains empowering field decisions to players, encouraging, and motivating them throughout a game. I have seldom witnessed a rugby captain blowing a fuse during a game for errors or mistakes of the teammates despite the high intensity of the game. 

More creative employees

In reality and in my own experience, leaders who empower subordinates have more creative and cooperating members in their teams compared to those who do not delegate. Leaders who delegate authority to their team members for autonomous decision-making have more success in leadership. 

Also, they are likely to be more organised and innovative. Particularly, empowerment seems to encourage staff members to generate unique ideas and enter into new ways of performing assigned tasks. The empowered team members tend to volunteer for extra work and help colleagues, even when those are outside official capacity. 

Experts on behavioural sciences reveal two distinct psychological phenomena for the self-motivation of employees. First, they feel a greater sense of independence and control in their respective duties.

They also feel that their jobs have meaning that adds value to the organisation. They also believe that their competency is appreciated and admired by the hierarchy making them feel more confident. 

Second, the followers are more likely to trust the leader who they recognise as more empowering. That makes them work for the leader with faith and putting in more effort with a sense that they are not being exploited. Any committed employee likes to take additional responsibilities and meet the challenges that invariably follow. 

A trusting relationship that is considered as one of the most important aspects for the growth of the organisation builds up between the leader and the followers when delegation is done effectively. 

Enhanced employee performance

Empowering leaders always immensely contribute to enhanced employee performance on job tasks. However, delegating tasks must be done cautiously because additional responsibility and challenges can stress out an employee unnecessarily. They must be motivated to think that the extra responsibility is not a burden but an opportunity to prove themselves more. 

It is imperative to determine how the subordinates perceive the leader when empowering tasks. A leader’s behaviour and how the workers interpret it are important to build mutual trust. Followers view greater independence or shared opinions of the leader as an indication that the leader trusts them with opportunities for self-development. Therefore, it is vital that when empowering employees the leaders avoid too much pressure that can create uncertainty. 

The leader should have a perfect understanding of the individual behaviour of each subordinate and also how they behave as team members. More the leader understands the individual behaviour, it is easier to fathom the expectations of them separately.

The key point is that employees hold their own expectations (the expectancy theory of motivation-what is in it for me) regardless of the level of empowerment. Hence, empowerment always must be aligned with the prospect of the staff members and their job tasks. 

Improves commitment and job satisfaction

There is no doubt that empowerment improves commitment, creativity, job satisfaction, and motivation. Motivation is self and comes from within the individual. Although traditional compensations such as monetary offers do exist, non-financial benefits by way of recognition and appreciation produce more results as per experts and in my own experience. Providing flexibility in work and encouraging personal achievements are powerful motivators that can be provided through empowerment.  

Providing an emotion of ownership by delegating work assignments is another strong motivator. Hence promoting the intrapreneurship concept is immensely productive. Therefore, allowing the subordinates to make independent work-related decisions without consulting the hierarchy can be immensely effective.

Organisations should identify and select entrepreneurs who are self-motivated, knowledgeable, and proactive individuals. Also, those who are having leadership qualities on their own are perfect to be chosen as intrapreneurs. These individuals are ideal to be empowered for more serious tasks in business-related decision-making. 

Encouraging empowerment

Encouraging employee empowerment also has another benefit by way of a direct line to the bottom line. It enables companies to perform more effectively in competition. Highly motivated staff with a sense of ownership provided to them through empowerment is automatically motivated. Hence, they help a culture of continuous growth. Such motivated employees will be more resilient in the face of challenges. 

Empowering employees through enhanced autonomy is directly related to better motivation. Experts have opined that the employees who possess more control over how, when, and where they have to engage themselves provide a better output. Also, empowering and delegating not only offers an opportunity for them to put their best foot forward but also gives them an increased sense of job satisfaction as well. According to a meta-analysis by Harvard Business Review suggests that leaders who empower their employees are more likely to be trusted, compared to those who do not empower their subordinates. Theoretically and in reality, leaders who trust their subordinates to delegate tasks without fear or doubt, act as mentors and coaches, pushing them to do their best and go the extra mile. These leaders support the followers along the way and genuinely expect them to improve.  

Finally, employee empowerment can instill greater trust in leadership and also in the organisation, increase motivation, foster greater creativity, and improve employee retention. All these aspects help an organisation to confront the competition successfully and improve revenues.