Empowerment is not a new topic, but we leaders often do not apply it very well in businesses.
I am a former Army officer, and there it was clear to me that I just had one gun and my men had forty. My primary job was to get everyone to be as good at their job as possible and not simply be the best shot myself. So I learned that my job was to facilitate the success of those I led. The results were great. Soldiers recognized that I believed that they had value and importance. They took pride in their individual expertise as part of the team, and together we could do more than any one of us.
A business organization is no different. Line workers are expert doers. I need to give them more training and direction to make a positive impact with their work and thoughts. When I can hear their individual voices and understand their impact, I am empowering them and the whole team is stronger.
Higher level leaders need to do less direct doing and more facilitating. I usually do not tell workers how to complete the job, but challenge them to find ways and record their methods and results. When our expectations for them to think and openly experiment to make processes better are clear, then we are really empowering. It is hard to get workers past complaining to an empowered status, but we are building ownership that can take the business far.
The topic is big actually. I only touch on it here.
Ideas? Other examples?