To accomplish goals consistently, leader/managers need to maintain motivation within the team. A good leader develops the competence and commitment of their people so they are self-motivated rather than dependent on others for direction and guidance.
People often want the opportunity to be responsible for their own work and to be creative—they want to be empowered. Leader/managers empower associates by training them to do a job and providing them with necessary skills; giving them the necessary resources, authority, and clear intent; and then stepping aside to let them accomplish the task. Empowering associates is a forceful statement of trust and one of the best ways of developing leader/managers. Empowerment
implies accepting the responsibility for the freedom to act and create.
The Army has an expression, “You can delegate authority but not responsibility.” I think that applies to empowering associates and give them direction. They need the authority to get the job done, but the responsibility still belongs with the leader. Leader/managers cannot turn around and blame the associates if things go wrong. Failure is the best teacher and is part of training.
One of the greatest challenges for a leader is to encourage associates to exercise initiative. Associates who are not in leadership positions are often reluctant to recognize that a situation calls for them to accept responsibility and step forward. Leader/managers can set the conditions for initiative by guiding others in thinking through problems for themselves. They can build confidence in the associates’ competence and ability to solve problems.
When I was the Director for Environmental Services at a long term care facility, I had responsibility for facility maintenance. When I first started, it was not unusual for one of the maintenance associates to call me in the middle of the night about an emergency that they could not handle and needed to call an outside vendor. The previous policy was that only the director could call
outside resources. The maintenance associate in the facility was fully qualified to determine when outside assistance was needed much better than I, living 30 miles away in the suburbs. I immediately changed that policy to allow the maintenance staff to call for outside assistance in an emergency after hours.
Sometimes we made mistakes, but I always back up the decision.
This change empowered the maintenance staff and built trust. It also let
me get more sleep.