My most recent article about leadership through delegation reinforces the concept of how leaders are made even more effective through the formation of talented teams. In addition to delegation, empowerment is a necessary component of successful team use in an organization.
In her book The Art and Science of Leadership (4th ed.), Afsaneh Nahavandi wrote that empowerment “involves sharing power with subordinates and pushing decision-making and implementation power to the lowest possible level” (p. 119). The foundation of empowerment is sharing power within an organization so others can have the necessary tools to perform their jobs. Essentially, this is a symbolic act whereby leaders release “control,” and trust that their subordinates are capable of performing without micromanagement. In turn, empowerment affords subordinates the opportunity to recognize their abilities – motivating them to maintain their effective performance and solidify their place within the enterprise.
In his book Team Players and Teamwork, Glenn Parker wrote of the importance of establishing a culture of empowerment. Parker noted organizations that need to practice empowerment are those that “…long valued individual technical excellence, thinly veiled competition, solo action, and private agreements…” (p. 180). Parker further posited that leaders must exhibit and extend trust – and learn to “decontrol” if they hope to help their teams achieve success. Further, leaders must empower subordinates to take responsibility for their own job roles and duties.
One could argue that a lack of empowerment stems from insecure leadership. In his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, John Maxwell contended that insecure leaders had trouble trusting (or “believing in”) their followers because of their lack of faith in their own abilities. Further, insecure leaders are a threat to themselves and their followers; specifically because they do not provide security (or acceptance) for others, they take more than they give, they continually limit their best people – and thus, they limit their organizations. In effect, these insecure leaders “invent” a reality for their followers – unfortunately it is a negative and unproductive reality.
So, one could make the correlation that non-empowered followers are being led by insecure leaders…right?