In order to build a highly effective leadership team, it is critical to ensure that your organisation has a strategic vision and objectives which all your leaders buy into.
As we’ve discussed before ‘Defining and communicating your business’ purpose and objectives’ the keys to achieving this lie in clearly defining your business purpose, strategy and goals, and then communicating it properly to gain engagement and buy-in.
However, once this has been achieved, what then?
How do you get your leaders to live and breathe your purpose, mission and vision?
The leadership guru, John C Maxwell, once said: “Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than a lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.”
Simply put, this means the leaders within your organisation must be empowered to not only make business-critical decisions – and be held accountable for them – but to do so without fear of failure.
So, how do you empower your leaders to make decisions, take more responsibility and drive your business strategy forward?

The keys to empowering your leaders

Many organisations have leaders with strong operational skills. It’s how they maintain the status quo. However, they often lack people with the skills, experience and confidence to tackle issues which fall outside of their comfort zone or require more effort than usual or a bit of lateral thinking to resolve.
This can be exacerbated by the structure and framework that your leaders operate in.
If that structure is too rigid, if leaders aren’t given the leeway to make decisions which may affect a certain outcome, and if they are given the freedom to fail but to learn from their mistakes, it can have a real impact on the overall efficiency of the organisation.
In practical terms, this can lead to a loss of staff engagement, low morale and high employee turnover.
In real terms, this can have a real impact both on productivity and your bottom line.
A study by global leadership consultancy Zenger Folkman found that where empowerment within an organisation was low, only four per cent employees were willing put extra effort in. Conversely, where empowerment was high, that figure rose to 67%.
This finding illustrates another major benefit of having a highly empowered team – if your people are more satisfied in work, they’ll be willing to put in the extra effort needed to drive the business towards achieving its goals. That’s a win, right?
There are a few practical steps you can take, right now, to make your leaders feel more empowered.

Value ideas and innovation

There’s nothing more disheartening than having an idea, good or bad, ignored.
Rejecting an idea outright or listening to an idea but then doing nothing with it are both behaviours which discourage empowerment.
So, you should be looking to create a culture which values ideas and innovation and encourages people to speak up, without fear of getting shot down in flames.

Rewards and recognition

A basic tenet of psychology is that behaviour which gets rewarded gets repeated. Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov proved this theory in the 1890s by conditioning his dogs to associate being fed with positive behaviour. Humans are no different.
So, empowering your leaders to take risks, and rewarding them for the positive outcomes this creates, increases their own empowerment.
It can also have the knock-on effect of spurring other team members on to also push themselves and take risks if they see their colleagues getting rewarded for it.

Authority and autonomy

When a leader has the authority – and the autonomy – to make a decision, they feel more empowered. Conversely, if they make a decision that gets reversed by someone at a higher level, they feel less empowered.
The more control people have over their work and how it is done, the higher their sense of empowerment.
So, if your leaders are skilled, knowledgeable and experienced enough to make good decisions, give them the authority to do so, without fear of failure. And if you don’t get the outcome you expected or were looking for, learn from it.
In the aftermath of Honda’s recall of 8.5m vehicles because of faulty airbags, a senior executive of the carmaker said: “We forgot that failure is never an acceptable outcome; instead, it is the means to acceptable outcomes.”

Invest in development

As we said earlier, many leaders possess strong operational skills, but often lack the knowledge, skills, expertise or experience to tackle anything which they find too challenging.
There is a strong link between development and empowerment, because it shows you are willing to invest in your people to help them perform their roles better.
This not only results in better leaders, it also communicates that they are valued.

How can FP Training help?

If you’re looking to invest in the development of your leadership team, FP Training can create a programme of bespoke solutions to help your leaders take on more responsibility and accountability for managing their staff.
This will lead to a greater understanding of the responsibilities that come with a leadership role and how to lead a team, improvements in problem-solving, decision-making and planning, better time management, more delegation and less firefighting.
All of this will result in greater productivity, more efficiency and, ultimately, enhanced profitability and growth.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how FP Training can help you empower your leaders and develop exceptional leadership skills within your business, we’d love to hear from you.
Get in touch today for an informal chat by calling 01332 527144 or emailing