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How to empower and enable your team this year

by Karen Stein

Everyone wants to work in a team which allows them to feel they can be of their best. In these teams you feel that you can thrive and be supported. You feel heard and engaged, energised, and inclined to devote discretionary effort to the team objectives. You feel a part of something bigger than yourself, where you can make a difference that matters, and feel of worth and of significance. Importantly you feel empowered and enabled to be of your best self.

As a leader, you play a major role in creating this team. When you effectively empower and enable your team you will increase the self-determination and confidence of team members. This will improve their individual and collective wellbeing, engagement, optimism, motivation, and performance.
It sounds so obvious – empower and enable the team members. Yet it is often overlooked. Leaders can too often become busy, fail to delegate effectively, micromanage in response, and communicate ineffectively.

However, with some self-reflection and focus you can attend to your leadership impact and ensure it is positive and enduring. Let’s consider five ways you can self-coach yourself to effectively empower and enable your team.

1. Know your team

Empowering your team starts with knowing who your team members are. This is more than knowing their name and position. When you really know them as people you will know what they are striving towards, what are their hopes, dreams and goals, and which of their strengths can be utilised. You will be better equipped to empower them appropriately so they can be of their best.

Self-coaching tip: write down the names of your team members and add information which helps you gather insights about them. What are their strengths? What are their individual needs that require consideration for them to work as their best selves? What expertise and experience do they have and what are the opportunities for their growth? Where this information is lacking, book a catch up to learn more about them and use these insights to be attentive to how you can better empower and enable them.

2. Delegate with purpose and context

When you delegate opportunities to your team members, reflect on how you are doing so. Swift delegation, with little explanation may tell your team what to do yet might leave out the context and purpose as to why the task matters. Provide context so team members gain a deeper understanding of why they have been empowered, as well as what and how to do so. This gives greater meaning to the tasks, increasing team member engagement, ownership and accountability.

Self-coaching tip: Take a few more minutes to delegate with purpose to provide context and meaning to the task at hand. Explain how their involvement will support the problem which is to be solved. Highlight the team member’s strengths which will aid them (from your list above) and help them see how they are of value. This will further empower and enable them to be of their best.

3. Communicate effectively – share all important information

The best leaders are those who are conscious communicators. They share insights and important information promptly. Avoid drip feeding information as you recall it. The absence of critical information is unlikely to enable your team. Rather, be planful when you empower team members and present them with what they need to be successful.

Self-coaching tip: To ensure you have provided all necessary information, pause and reflect on what is essential to communicate before you delegate. Collect your thoughts and then share them, being empathic to their needs. Check your assumptions to consider whether the team member has all the data points which sit with you and which need to be communicated.

4. Gratitude and feedback

Once you have empowered and enabled the team and they have completed the task, be sure to show gratitude for their involvement. Gratitude increases positive emotions and wellbeing of both the recipient and the giver. Recognise their contribution with specific reference to its impact. Similarly, provide feedback which is specific to their work and supports them with understanding what they did well, and what they could do differently to have an alternative impact next time.

Self-coaching tip: Diarise a monthly review of your list of team members and identify who has contributed something which is worthy of thanks. Select a medium to do so – a note of thanks, an e-card, a shout-out in the group meeting, a direct conversation or email.

Additionally, provide specific feedback to help them understand the impact of their behaviours and contribution. Statements such as “good job!” don’t elicit any particular insights to enable them for the future. Detail why it was (or wasn’t) a good job so they can be understanding of their impact and make choices towards their future contribution.

5. Notice why you are not delegating

Sometimes it feels easier not to delegate. Afterall, you are likely to be busy and you need time to stop and delegate. Who has time for that?! Rethink this assumption. Allocating time to effectively delegate will buy you back time. You will have less misunderstandings, and less work to re-do. You will have reduced your workload by sharing the load and will have developed and grown your team members.

Self-coaching tip: Pause to notice why you are not delegating and unpack your assumptions and biases. If you think it will be faster to do it yourself, consider how you are preventing your team from learning and growing by not delegating. Notice the never-ending cycle you are perpetuating by not delegating. If your team doesn’t have the requisite skills, recognise that they are unlikely to gain them if not empowered to act. Challenge your thinking and adopt and experiment with new ways of empowering and enabling your team.

About the author

Karen Stein PCC is an experienced Executive Coach with over 2000 coaching hours, and author of Be Your Own Leadership Coach (self-coaching strategies to lead your way) (Major Street Publishing).

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