Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of one’s own destiny. As a leader do you have an empowerment Attitude?
The sum of every leader’s actions is the “environment” or “culture” they are creating within their own area of influence. Whatever you do, however you speak, however you act as a leader, is always communicating something to your followers or the personnel you are responsible to supervise. Actions can speak louder than words as your attitude dictates your actions especially when it comes to empowerment.
In the fire service we can divide leaders and the environments they build into 2 different categories:
Controlling: Extreme examples are dictators, Micro managers and officers who think that no one can do the job as good as them, officers who don’t care about somebody else’s opinion, use fear of punishment or repercussions as primary motivation and force to execute their will.
Empowering: These leaders have in common that they have very high values for individuals and their opinions. That’s why they encourage critical thinking and in turn gain highly innovative and motivated followers. They understand that they are most effective when their followers are the most empowered. This way their goal becomes finding the perfect spot for every individual’s predicated knowledge, skills and abilities, celebrating great ideas, outstanding work, amazing accomplishments and honoring excellent followers.
The difference is pretty obvious in these extreme examples. In real life leaders routinely find themselves somewhere in-between these two extremes, oftentimes not even aware of how empowering or controlling they are and how much of the potential of their followers they release or hold back. Make a conscious effort in your leadership and attitude to be empowering. Your organization will reap the rewards!