Empowerment In The Moment

Most people it seems like the idea of empowerment but how would you respond when the opportunity presents itself to show off your power and leadership qualities?

Last week I was working with a CEO from one of our favourite clients. We were discussing the detailed content of a management development programme for his senior people and how we want to include a project that runs along side the programme. It is a simple idea. The participants need to form into teams and have 8 weeks to shape an objective, to agree how to work together and to report back on progress/deliverables.

With this in mind, I asked the CEO if he would like to see the project goal statements and to sign them off at the outset. In our experience, many CEO’s like to do this.

His response was really interesting. ‘I certainly don’t want to do that’ he said. ‘We have to trust these people and to empower them to do things – we have done a lot of work on the vision and priorities for our business and now they need to work out what the problem is, set the goals, plan the work and get on with it. I would like to hear about progress and of course I am here if they have questions. What does it say about empowerment around here if they can’t progress something without my say so?’

In contrast, I was reminded of a Senior Leader who has recently left a business. His approach was completely different to the same challenge. He would not only want to sign off the project goals but would actually hand out goals for the teams to work on. He would allocate projects to certain teams and individuals. He would then insist on regular updates. When the project was complete he would call the team into his office and work on their presentation and iron out any flaws or problems in it. When his teams presented to the board he would have seen the presentation a number of times. There were no surprises.

When you consider the two examples the first one really does demonstrate empowerment when it would have been really easy (perhaps even tempting) to have asked to approve the project goals. The second example carried an illusion of leadership. The boss was in fact in charge of everything. If you peel back the underlying reason for his very hands on approach – he didn’t really trust his team to do a great job. So he did it himself.

So tomorrow, one of your team wanders into your office and says ‘hi, we have written up a project goal statement, can you sign it off for us’, what would you say?

 App news

Great news for our app sales. If you type ‘Leadership’ into the iTunes iPad app store, our app, The Leadership Coach,  is now top 5 and is being used by managers and business coaches across the world. In celebration, we have reduced the price to a mere 99c or 69p. We often point out how crazy this price is given that we used to sell the physical product at £500 a set!

 Music News

Top of the office playlist this week is the new Steve Mason album which is called ‘Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time’. It is an album saturated with politics. With a title referring to the Buddhist term for an easily distracted brain. This is an amazing piece of work and is highly recommended to all you musos (and in fact non musos) out there.