Empowerment is becoming an increasingly important aspect of how leaders lead. We can see that organisations that empower their people are far more resilient to external volatility and can adapt quickly.
Without the layers of bureaucracy that accompany organisations that keep power centrally, those organisations that pass down decision-making are free to innovate and find creative solutions at pace.
For the younger generation of employees, empowerment is often perceived as a necessity and a vital part of taking responsibility and personal growth. Without empowerment, people can become frustrated and are more likely to seek employment elsewhere.
This is worth keeping in mind as we explore empowering others through transformational leadership.
At its heart, transformational leadership seeks to bring about a paradigm change in people and in that way, produce deep meaningful change in the organisation. When people are transformed, they are different at a deeper level. Transformational leadership seeks to change the way people see and understand themselves and the world around them.
For a transformational leader, the focus is always on people rather than process; it is development and learning rather than task completion. Though the process and task completion are vital, they do not bring about adaptive and creative change.
A transactional leader, in contrast, will focus on processes, procedures, budgets, targets, structures, and branding as ways to bring about change. These transactions will alter some behaviour but this will be extrinsic in nature and motivation tends to be about avoiding bad things rather than being drawn to good things.
“...teams led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and report overall high satisfaction than teams led by other styles.” - Psychology Today
This article by Simply Psychology expands the theory behind transformational leadership. It is also worth looking at our blog, “What does it mean to be an intentional leader” as a complementary aspect of transformational leadership.
Qualities of a Transformational Leader
When the focus is on changing people, a more expert set of leadership qualities and skills are required than mere management and administration. These qualities include:
Communicating an inspirational vision
Creating, building, and maintaining trust
Living values on a day-to-day basis
Engaging in dialogue and exploring thinking
Encouraging opposing thinking and ideas
Establishing psychological safety and safe spaces
Genuine and deep humility
Significantly developing those around them, especially in a leadership capacity and capability
When we demonstrate transformational leadership in each conversation, meeting, and strategic plan, we are focused on people.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves and reflect upon.
What do people need to become more aware of their behaviours?
What development and change do people need to make?
What reflections and feedback do people need?
What challenges do people need?
How do I need to stand back for others to grow?
What deep change will this strategy bring about in people?
Empowerment and Transformational Leadership
When we demonstrate transformational leadership, we naturally wish to empower people as the best way to bring about change whilst simultaneously building capacity and capability.
Empowerment is letting go of exacting control; it is passing on decision-making to someone else and allowing them the freedom to make those decisions. Empowerment is not taking control back or being disappointed if mistakes happen or things don’t work out. Every mistake really is a huge opportunity for learning and growth.
Empowering others through transformational leadership is an incredible way to promote growth and quality of life. Growth produces capacity and capability for future performance. Quality of life is the new goal of employees and this results in healthy recruitment, engagement, retention, well-being, and competitive advantage.
Additionally, Indeed has found these are also benefits of empowerment through transformational leadership:
Maintains workplace integrity
Encourages professional development
Improves loyalty and decreases turnover
Empowerment and Coaching for Accountability
There is sometimes a concern that empowering others will lead to less accountability, that by giving over decision-making we will not be as aware of what is going on.
The opposite is actually true. Often when we take control and monitor closely, we create a culture where people tell us what we want to hear. Where people feel less autonomous, they take less responsibility and feel less motivated. This leads to less trust and less psychological safety resulting in people hiding the truth. So ironically, the more we control and disempower, the less we know what is going on.
The only reason we may not know what is going on is if as leaders we abdicate.
When we empower, we also need to hold people to account through a challenging coaching approach. The book, “Challenging Coaching” by Ian Day and John Blakey is an excellent approach to this topic.
When we coach with trust, rapport, relationship and psychological safety, we can be challenging and know the truth.
Questions for Accountability
Below, we share a few questions you may like to use when it comes to empowering your people to take accountability.
“Walk me through this project and describe to me what you have done?”
“Tell me more about that?”
“How does this line in with the original scope for this project?”
“What has been the mistake you have learnt the most from?”
“What stakeholder expectations have you found challenging to meet?”
“What decisions are you finding difficult to make?”
“What is it like to be led by you?”
“How have you changed as a person and as a leader?”
“What changes would the people who work for you say they have seen?”
“What behaviours hold you back the most?”
Our blog, “Leading with Support and Challenge” is a great read for increasing empowerment coaching as we seek to lead in a transformational way.
We have seen that empowering others through transformational leadership is a natural consequence of transformational leadership. We have explored what it means to be a transformational leader, how empowerment fits with transformational leadership, and how coaching provides an excellent approach to accountability in an empowering culture.
Contact Us Today
Book a free consultation by calling us today if you want to find out how our expert coaching services can support you to create an empowering culture through transformational leadership.
Written by Ian at The Leadership Coaches
Transformation Leadership by Simply Psychology
8 must-have transformational leadership qualities by Forbes
Benefits of Empowerment by Indeed
Challenging Coaching by Ian Day and John Blakey