Corporate Training: The Influential Leader Empowers

It was leadership experts John Maxwell and Jim Dornan who said When you empower people, you’re not influencing just them; you’re influencing all the people they influence.  But, what exactly is empowerment?  It is a buzz word that we hear all the time, but what does it really mean?  Well, the word empowerment can be defined as to give the ability to.   So, when we empower someone we are actually giving them the ability to do something.

The problem with empowerment is in how we give it to someone. We walk up to team member Jane and we say, Jane, project ABC is now your baby.  It is your project.  Make it happen.  Oh, by the way, if you need to make any changes, then come check with me first.   Do you see what just happened?   We just handcuffed Jane. We gave her the responsibility for project ABC but we didnt give her any authority.   That is not empowerment.

Empowerment is actually an equation.  It is not an equation original with me but very accurate and very powerful.

Empowerment = Responsibility + Authority

That is true empowerment.  We give Jane the ability to do project ABC by not only giving her responsibility but also the authority to make decisions to make it happen.  That not only empowers her but also begins developing her leadership skills.  It also frees us up so that we can focus on the things that only we can do.  We must never micro-manage people.  When we empower Jane, it frees her and us to be our best.  It also makes the team stronger.  We become a leadership focused team where we are developing everyones leadership abilities.

You might be saying, But what if Jane messes up?  If she does, that is not a big deal.  Use it as a teachable moment.  We all mess up from time to time.  When we learn from our mistakes, they actually make us stronger and draw us closer to our goals completion.

Another point to remember is that we cant empower every team member the same way.  Why?  Because not everyone has the same experience or gifts.  If we over-empower someone then they are over their head and they begin to drown.  I have seen this happen and it not only is devastating for the team member but also the team. Everyone is an individual and we must lead them to success at their own pace.  Help each member on your team be the best they can be..and your success (and theirs) is secure.

So, how do we do this?   Well, we start with what are the qualifications to empower.  Do we have the qualifications to empower this team member?  It is a good question.  Lets explore the answer together.   There are four qualifications that I believe must be present in order to effectively empower someone.

One, position.  Fred Smith said, Who can give permission for another to succeed?  A person in authority.  Others can encourage, but permission comes only from an authority figure:  a parent, boss, or pastor.  Mr. Smith is right.  Are you a person of authority with this person you seek to empower?  If not, you cant empower them. You can motivate and inspire them but not empower them.  You must have the position to truly empower someone.

Two, relationship.   You must have some sort of a relationship with them.  If they have very little contact with you, then you wont be able to effectively empower them.  Even if you are their boss, you cant empower them unless you have a working relationship with them.

Three, respect.  There has to be a mutual respect with each other for the empowering relationship to be truly effective.

Four, commitment.  There needs to be a commitment on your part as a leader.  You are in it for the long haul.  You dont give them their assignment and then disappear to another project.  As a leader, you need to be available.  Available for guidance, available for strength, and available for help.  The team member needs to be committed to you as their leader and to the organization to do the very best job they can.  The commitment to go the extra mile, to give that extra amount.

Those are the four qualifications to empower someone.  Once they are in place, we can move to the empowering process itself.  There are also four keys to empowering people.

How To Empower People

1.     Discover their strengths

2.     Develop their strengths

3.     Give them a project

4.     Help them succeed

First, we have to discover their strengths by observing them. Second, like a great coach, we must help them develop their strengths.  Their strength is like a muscle.  Without use, it gets weak.  With constant use, it grows strong and powerful.

The third thing we must do to empower them is give them a place to use it.  A basketball player might have a sweet jump shot but it doesnt really do any good until the coach puts him in the game.  We must put them in the game.  Once they are in the game, we move to the fourth thing which is to help them succeed.   Chances are they will make some errors.  Not a big deal.  Coach them to success. Even Michael Jordan needed a coach.  We all do.  A great coach can pull out the best from their team members.

So, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed at work?  Too much to do and not enough hands to do it? Or is it you havent empowered those hands to do it?  Take a good look at your winning team and start empowering them today.

The Styles of Leadership By Mark Bowser

There are three basic styles of leadership. All of us use these three styles.  Now, let me pause here for a minute and say that I am not suggesting you change your style.  What I am suggesting is that you become flexible with the styles.  Would you agree with me that your style works some of the time and fails miserably some of the time? Why is that?  Because one style doesn’t fit every situation.  What I am suggesting is that you use a more flexible situational leadership when it comes to the Leadership Styles.  Use the style that best fits the situation and the people involved.

Having said that, what are the three Leadership Styles?  The styles are:

1.      Autocratic

2.      Democratic

3.      Free Rein

Let me explain what each style is and when to use it.  Autocratic: The Autocratic Leader is more like a general.  The commander of an army.  They are quick decision makers and they tell others what to do.  We saw this style a great deal in the corporate world in the 1950s through the 1980s.  We still see it today but not quite as much as those earlier decades.  Why did we see it so much in the past? Well, where did the CEOs and Presidents of organizations get their training?  Many of them came out of the military.   Is autocratic leadership a good style for the military?  Absolutely.  Particularly in war time.  Why?  Because we are in crisis or emergency mode. Decisions had to be made and made quickly or people would die. Autocratic leaders took action and won wars.

After the war, these leaders came back and took their place in the corporate world.  They discovered that their civilian counterparts didnt take to orders like their military counterparts.  This caused them some challenges.   The leaders discovered that their style didnt work in every situation.  They learned that they had to be flexible in their leadership styles.   There is still a place for autocratic leadership in the corporate world because we have emergencies and other situations that require quick decisions and quick actions.  But what we have to do in order to maximize our effectiveness is not get stuck in one style.  Use the style that best fits the situation.

Democratic: The second style of leadership is the Democratic style.  This is the leadership style of teamwork.  It is run by democracy.  We put things to a vote to make decisions and the majority rules.  This is great for building team loyalty and participation but let me ask you a question.  Should every decision at your office be put to a vote?  Of course not.  So, when is this a good leadership style to use?  When you need to get buy in (by having open discussions where you can answer questions and sell your vision) and when the decisions arent a major importance.  Use this style to create rapport and teamwork.

Free Rein: In this style of leadership, we get out of the way and let our team do their thing.  It is a style where there is definitely no micro management.  That is good.  The challenge is that your team members have to be  excellent, well trained, and go getters for it to succeed.  If you have a lot of entry level workers or workers who are new to the job, this is not the best style to be in.  Those workers will need more of your input and guidance for at least the short term.

Well, there we have it.   Three styles of leadership:  autocratic, democratic, and free rein.  They all have their pluses and they all have their minuses.  Use the style that best fits the situation and the team members involved and you will find yourself succeeding in all leadership situations.

The Three Facts of Leadership

There are Three Facts of Leadership.  If we understand these facts then our influence has the opportunity to grow.  And when our influence grows so does our effectiveness as leaders.

THREE FACTS OF LEADERSHIP

1.     One person can make a difference

2.     Start leading today

3.     The office doesnt make the person

Fact Number One:  One Person Can Make a Difference

This is probably not a new saying to you, but what pictures came to your mind when you read that statement?  If you are like many people, it was pictures of Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and many others.  However, do you see someone missing from that list?  I do.  That someone is YOU!

Mother Theresa didnt go out to become a saint, she went out to save one dieing person.  She was walking down the street and saw a person dieing in a gutter.   She said to herself, That is not right. Everyone should die with dignity.   And the rest they say is history. Great leaders, great physicians, sales champions, and consultants figure out how their influence can touch a life and by doing that their influence may touch hundreds, thousands, and maybe even millions of lives.

So, the question is where can your leadership grow to make a bigger difference then you are today?  You are probably making a difference, but how can your leadership grow?  You make a difference and people need you!

Fact Number Two:  Start Leading Today

Many times, young leaders for example will say, Im not ready to lead.  I will wait till I read that leadership book, or go to that seminar, or learn that skill, etc.   Now, those are all important things and I encourage them but the truth of the matter is that your organization and your team cant wait.  You need to start leading todayand learn as you lead.   None of us will ever know all there is to leadership.  It is a continual growing process.  We cant wait till we know all there is to leadership or we will do absolutely nothing.  We must become influential today and grow throughout our leadership journey.

 Fact Number Three:  The Office doesnt make the Person

Leadership is not about the corner office.  Have you ever worked for someone who thought it was?  They were more concerned with their promotion, their prestige, and there accolades.  In the process, they lost their team (and many times their customers) as a result.

Now, please dont misunderstand me, I have no problem with comfortable offices and a comfortable work environment.  In fact, I am actually for it.  But we must not put the cart before the horse.

Today, my familys company, the Bright Corp. has a comfortable work environment and the executives have nice offices.  But it wasnt always that way.  My dad and my uncle made sure the horse came before the cart and now the company has the resources to support that type of environment.  They were more concerned with helping their team succeed and serving their customers then they were about having a cushy sofa and a picture window in their office.  As a result of this wise decision, they dont have a revolving door for their team or worst yet for their customers.  Their team has tremendous loyalty.  They have team members that have worked for the Bright Corp. for over twenty years.  They have customers that also go that far back.  How rare is that?    Very!!!  Focus on your team and focus on your customers and the rest will take care of itself.

Great Leaders Capture the Power of Vision

Throughout time, great leaders have always had vision.  Vision is one of the most important elements to being a champion.  The Ancient Writer states it this way, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.    Vision keeps us on track.  It even shows us where the track is.  So, if vision is so important to success and happiness then where do we get it?  That is not an easy question.  One way is to ask yourself where you want to be ten years down the road?  What will you have accomplished?  Where will you live?  Who will be with you?   Questions like these will help you discover your inner vision for your life.

I believe that there are two elements we have to keep in mind if we are to be successful with our leadership vision.  One, the vision needs to be a challenging vision to stretch you and your team (REMEMBER:  In order to reach your vision, you are going to need to get people on board with it which means you have to lead them. Every great leader has a vision that is worthy of following and the confidence and integrity to get people to follow them).

When I think about a leader with a challenging vision, I think of President John F. Kennedy.  In 1961, he stood before the nation and said, “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.”  That would be a challenging vision for NASA to repeat today let alone in 1961.

Let me remind you where we were when JFK made that statement. In 1961, we had just successfully launched Alan Shepherd into space as the first American into space.  Up until that point we had had failure after failure.  It was a miracle we didn’t kill Alan Shepherd in the attempt to get him up there.  Rocket after rocket had blown up in our faces.  The Soviet Union was stomping on us in the space race.

Then, we have one success and President Kennedy said we are going to the moon.  Our scientist probably wanted to send him to the moon.  What an outrageous statement.  Did we know how to accomplish it?  Probably not.  Was it possible?  Some of them probably weren’t sure.  But what happened at 4:17 P.M. in the afternoon on Sunday July 20, 1969?  The spacecraft ever so smoothly landed on the lunar surface.  Neil Armstrong called back to earth, “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.” Later, as he and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of  Eagle onto the moon, Neil said, “That is one small step for man one giant leap for mankind.”  We had done it!  We had landed two men on the moon and we did return them safely back home to earth.  You see, a challenging vision isn’t one you necessarily have all the answers to at the beginning, but one that will stretch you to accomplish something you didn’t know you were capable of.  It makes you stronger and better.

The second thing we have to keep in mind in order to make our vision a reality is the courage to put it into action.  Michele Borba tells a story about Rocky Lyons.  When Rocky was five years old, he and his mother Kelly were traveling in their pickup truck down a country two lane road.  Rocky was asleep with his legs resting on his mother’s lap.  When they turned onto a narrow bridge, the truck hit a pothole.  Trying to get the truck out of a rut, Kelly sped up and turned the steering wheel.  Rocky’s foot got caught between the steering wheel and Kelly’s leg and she lost control of the vehicle. The truck tumbled over a 20-foot ravine.

The crash woke up Rocky.  He looked at his mother and said, “What happened, Mama?”  Kelly was hurt bad.  She was covered with blood.  Rocky said, “I’ll get you out, Mama.”  He crawled out the window and tried to pull his mother out of the truck.  It didn’t work.  He climbed back into the truck and somehow used his 40-pound body to push his 104-pound mother out of the wreckage.

Rocky was planning on climbing to the top of the ravine to get help for his mother.  Fearing he would get hurt, Kelly refused to let him go by himself.  Inch by inch they struggled along.  Rocky not only had a vision to save his mother, he also knew how to motivate her to success.  He told his mother to remember that little train.  He was referring to the train in that children’s classic The Little Engine that Could.  In Rocky’s own version of that famous line, he kept motivating his mother by saying, “I know you can, I know you can.”

Well, they made it to the top and Rocky flagged down a vehicle. They got Kelly to the hospital and after 8 hours of surgery and 344 stitches, she was put back together.  She looks much different today then she did before the crash.  BUT SHE IS ALIVE!  She is alive because a five-year-old boy had a vision to save his mother and the courage to put it into action.  Rocky just did what he had to do.  He wasn’t trying to be a hero.  He just did what he was called to do.

That is what vision is all about.  A challenging vision which will get you out of your comfort zone and the courage to put it into action. What is your vision?  Is it to change the entire world or just your corner of it?  Whatever it is; wherever it is, GET THAT VISION AND MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Take some time right this moment to think about and answer the following questions.  Then, come up with 3 action steps to start the ball rolling towards your vision.

1.     If you knew you could not fail, what would you want to accomplish?

2.     Where do you want to be in your career in five years?

3.     Where do you want to be with your relationships in five years?

4.  If you were able to hear the eulogy at your funeral, what would you like to be said about you?

Corporate Training: The Keys to Empowered Leadership

The big question we have to ask today is what is leadership? Leadership is probably the most important element to our success. Leadership can be defined as motivating one or more people to move in a certain direction.  That move can be in the form of taking some action and/or acquiring a new belief.  So, by this definition, leadership can also be defined as Influence and it also can be defined as Sales.   Both are fundamental elements in your success. You may have never thought of it that way.  Be honest, how many of you thought becoming better at Leadership, Influence, and Sales would help prosper your life?  Probably not very many of you. However, I am going to give it my best to influence you on the absolute truth of that fact.

Effective leadership is the most vital element to any organization. With it and you can reach the stars.  Without it and the murkiest swamp will become your home.  As John Maxwell says, Everything rises and falls on leadership.   So, what is effective leadership and how do we become that kind of leader?  I believe one of the best definitions comes from author J. Oswald Sanders when he described leadership as Influence.  Sound familiar?  We all influence people everyday.  It may be as simple as influencing your co-workers on where to go eat lunch or as vital as influencing your teenager not to use drugs.

The first thing I think we need to understand is that there is a difference between an Influential Leader and a Positional Leader.  The Positional Leader has the title.  I am the President.  I am the Director.   I am the King of the nation.  Well, that is great.  But that doesn’t in and of itself make you influential.  The Influential Leader may be the peasant of the kingdom or the entry level employee. Influence is about inspiring and moving people into action in order to reach a desired goal.  I hope you have the position, but I also hope you have the trust, respect, and heart of your people.  Whatever your position is at this time, I want to help you develop into the Influential Person that you were born to be.

Before we can go any further, I believe it is important that we dig a little deeper into the explanations and actions of leadership.  Let me ask you a question.  Is there a difference between a leader and a manager? There is, isnt there.  Ok.  What does a leader do?  What is the first action that they take?  Right.  They create a vision.   They may not create a vision for the entire organization but they definitely do for their part of it.  Alright, what does a manager do?  Right. They make it happen.  They implement the vision.  The leader creates where we are going and the manager breaks the vision into manageable parts and assigns the tasks to the right people and assures that it happens.  Ok, let me throw another concept out there?  What does a coach do?  A coach motivates, inspires, teaches, provides resources, disciplines when necessary, etc

Which are we?  A Leader, a Manager, or a Coach?   That is right. We are all three.  I dont think we can separate it anymore.  We have to be all three.  We are a Leader/Manager/Coach.  Now, that makes our task a little more daunting but will make us much more effective and successful in the long run.  As I close this article, I encourage you to let this concept be a seed in the fertile soil of your mind.  Let it grow.  Let it develop and before you know it, so will your influence.