According to Gallup studies, less than 70% of the workforce is truly committed to their company or boss, and less than 70% is truly motivated. Leadership does not just mean to give directions, set goals, motivate people, or fix problems. Good leaders understand that they have to meet three golden prerequisites so as to gain followers: They have to earn trust, build credibility, and empower their employees.
A new generation of young and talented people is posing some new challenges to many leaders. Talents seek more work flexibility, independence, personal growth, and extraordinary challenges. Furthermore, they often want to make a contribution to a “higher cause” and dare to ask questions such as “Does the job fit within the context of my life and not just career goals?” or “Do my personal values coincide with those of the company?” In this sense, leaders and companies have to create an environment where employees are both able and capable of living up to their true potential so as to become not just an asset but the most valuable treasure; real intra-preneurs, which I call empowerment.
Learn the new game, dismiss old patterns. Many companies still follow the old and traditional way of recruiting people. The HR department defines a job profile based on a vacancy, shortlists candidates, conducts interviews and hires them, performs a gap analysis or an assessment so as to find out what skills have to additionally be trained, and wonders then why people still do not perform greatly. By following such a process they literally squeeze the “right” people into the “wrong” place. Others have understood how to follow a completely new pattern of empowerment. Managers and leaders — and not the HR department — hire a motivated candidate passionate about the job, even if she or he does not fit perfectly into a vacant position, identify their talents and purpose, listen to their preferences, enhance their real strengths, and create an environment where they can unleash their full potential. Such leaders and companies follow the 5 P principle: They put passionate people into the right place and let them perform.
Empowerment means to build first the capability of people. Some need more expertise, others want and need to be trained on management skills. Some have already reached a very advanced stage in their personal development and seek to enhance their leadership and entrepreneurial capabilities. Some want to make a real contribution to the fulfillment of the corporate mission and seek deeper meaning in their assignments. Independent of what capabilities leaders want to develop inside their employees, they need to possess a very high degree of L.E.A.D intelligence:
L: Listening. They have to able to listen, dare to rely on their emotions, follow their intuition, and practice a lot of self-reflection.
E: Energizing Empathy. They show a real interest in others, understand their emotions and acknowledging diversity.
A: Appreciation of Yourself. They esteem themselves, regardless of any weaknesses.
D: Discovery. They are aware of their true potential; they have a life vision or at least mission and know what they want to attain; they know their principles, values, strengths, and weaknesses.
Create “Ability.” Even the best leaders can’t empower people unless the company as a whole is able to create an arena where employees can fully live up to their capabilities. Companies should follow these steps to achieve this.
a. Create the right incentive plans — not just financial incentives — such as possibilities for job enrichment. Money still matters (a lot).
i. Share profits and let them participate.
ii. Allocate shares not just for managers.
iii. Offer leisure programs.
iv. Reward results and not time and experience.
v. Reward recruitment efforts.
vi. Balance bonus schemes along the value chain.
vii. Do not just reward for higher profits and sales, but also for cost cutting.
viii. Be flexible and offer your employees the financial means for personal growth.
ix. Offer sabbaticals.
b. Give straight feedback on things they have not done well. Many people perceive this as real appreciation.
2. Offer possibilities for personal growth.
c. Let your people shine whenever you can. Provide a platform where they can present their ideas.
d. Be open concerning requests for flexible working time
3. People strive for clear roles and responsibilities. Clarify expectations and foster decision-making capabilities.
4. Create a fearless environment so that people dare to be open and vulnerable. They have to dare to openly express their ideas. You as a leader achieve this best by walking the talk, being present so that you listen to and even perceive the needs of others. Allow for making mistakes.
5. Build strong emotional bonds to your staff by sharing experience and stories, being vulnerable and human (open-door policy), and being on a par with your employees.