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The Empowerment Shift

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Contents The Empowerment Shift: How to move from micromanaging to leading.............................................. 3 Overcoming Fear ..................................................................................................................................... 4 Overview of the 7C's of Empowerment .................................................................................................. 5 The First C of Empowerment – Courage to Let Go ................................................................................. 6 The Second C of Empowerment - Contracting ........................................................................................ 7 The Third C of Empowerment - Confidence ........................................................................................... 8 The Fourth C of Empowerment – Capabilities ........................................................................................ 9 The Fifth C of Empowerment – Check-Ins ............................................................................................ 11 The Sixth C of Empowerment – Coaching ............................................................................................. 12 The Seventh C of Empowerment – Celebrate ....................................................................................... 14 The 7C's of Empowerment Checklist: Building the Habit ..................................................................... 15 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................. 16 Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................... 17 The Honesty Box Project ....................................................................................................................... 18

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The Empowerment Shift: How to move from micromanaging to leading Often dismissed as a corporate buzzword, empowerment is vital for the growth and success of an organisation. Embracing a culture of empowerment helps to build more engaged teams, avoid micromanagement, develop better leaders, and achieve collective goals. So, what does 'empowerment' actually men? Empowerment is about trusting and supporting others to operate at their highest potential. Empowerment involves trusting others to own and deliver tasks and take full responsibility for the outcome. By taking ownership of tasks, the individual manages their own actions, decisions, and outcomes. As leaders, when we empower others to fully own a task, we are trusting them to manage and complete it with a sense of accountability and commitment. Ownership is the flipside of the empowerment coin. However, empowerment is often misunderstood as abdication of responsibility by the leader or throwing something over the fence. In reality, empowerment is actually a lot more of an active, structured process. This doesn’t always come easy to leaders, particularly if we are used to managing tasks closely, or doing things ourselves. The journey from micromanaging to leading, from controlling to trusting, can be a hard one. However, trusting and empowering our team members is essential if we want to become effective, intentional leaders. If we don’t adopt a culture of empowerment, we risk becoming overworked and burnt out, with our teams growing disengaged. In practice, empowerment and ownership means that colleagues and team members work together to achieve the organisation’s goal. This means our organisation must foster a culture of empowerment as one of its core values. So how can we create the conditions within our organisation to help us shift from controlling to trusting? Empowerment in Practice The first and arguably most important thing about empowering others, is to realise it is not a once-off action. It isn’t about delegating tasks and then crossing them off our to-do list. It requires us to stay involved in the process from start to finish, but in a different way. We have to change our way of thinking and embrace a new approach to leading. This can be a vulnerable process, as it requires us to have the courage to let go. But if we can do that, we will soon see that empowering others changes things for the better. Let’s dive a little deeper into the idea that empowerment is an ongoing process. Can you remember the last time you came across a construction site? Maybe the house itself wasn’t built yet, but you might have seen a scaffold in place. The scaffold is crucial to the building of the house and the completion of the construction project. It allows the construction workers to access places they otherwise wouldn’t and gives them the space and security to work to the best of their ability. The end result they are working towards simply couldn’t be achieved without it. This is a metaphor for the process of empowerment. If we view the newly built house as our end goal, the scaffold is the support that empowers our team members to reach it. We wouldn’t build a house without a scaffold, so why would we ask our team members to take ownership of a task without the proper ‘scaffolding’ or support structure in place? We have designed an empowerment process that creates the scaffold you need to build your metaphorical house. Our 7 Cs of Empowerment include courage, contracting, confidence, capabilities, check-ins, coaching and celebrating. This framework gives us the tools we need as leaders to let go and trust our teams.

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Overcoming Fear It can be challenging to change our approach and adopt a new way of doing things. Many people share the same fears when it comes to empowering others to own and deliver tasks. Some common fears around empowerment include: "People won't do the task as well as I would" "I'll have to let go of control" "It might fail" "What if the person does a great job and replaces me?" These fears are understandable. It can be helpful to remember that some element of fear is to be expected and is a normal part of growth. Very little growth happens when we operate safely within our comfort zone all the time. Occasionally, we need to step into the unknown and challenge ourselves in order to achieve the transformational results we want. A big part of working with fear is learning to let go of control. This can be a difficult thing to do when we have always felt responsible for the outcome of projects and tasks. We worry the task won’t be done as well, it might fail, or that it might go so well that the team member outshines us. The key to working with these fears is proper planning and preparation. By following a step-by-step process for empowerment, we will feel ready to relinquish control and it won’t feel like we are taking a leap of faith. With the steps outlined in this book, we can be aware of fears as they arise, and learn to deal with them as part of the process of empowerment. As with anything new we undertake, letting go of control requires practice. With time and consistency, it will get easier. If you joined a gym, you wouldn’t expect to visit once and see results. It takes many reps to strengthen a muscle. Growing as a leader is no different. This is where the 7C's of empowerment come in – acting as a framework to allow you to have the courage to let go in a structured and safe way.

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Overview of the 7C's of Empowerment 1. Courage to Let Go - Let go and trust your teammate to own and deliver their assigned task. 2. Contracting - Be clear about the vision of success and what you want the other person to do. Ownership is the flipside of the empowerment coin, and contracting involves setting out exactly what the other person is agreeing to own. 3. Confidence - Foster confidence in others. If an individual lacks confidence, they will not take the right level of ownership. 4. Capabilities - Ask your teammate what resources they need to be capable of delivering the task (training, information, mentoring, workforce, etc.) and provide the requested support. 5. Check-Ins - Schedule regular check-ins to receive updates and determine what help is required. Avoid the temptation to jump in, take over the task, and “rescue” the staff member if they experience challenges. Use a coaching approach instead. 6. Coaching - Use targeted questions to help your teammate find their own solutions to the challenges they face, e.g. What potential solutions can you think of to solve the current challenge? In your [staff member’s] opinion, which solution is the best and why? 7. Celebrate - Celebrate both team and individual successes.

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The First C of Empowerment – Courage to Let Go The first step in this model is the courage to let go. This sounds simple enough, but it requires self-reflection and honesty. In this section, we will look at the reasons why we find it difficult to let go of tasks, and what steps we can take to overcome our hesitations. Why is it so difficult for leaders to let go? When we explore the reasons why letting go can be challenging for us as leaders, we may find ourselves faced with some uncomfortable truths. Delegating tasks to others means that we are losing control of how things are done. We all like to have things done our way and letting go might spark a sense of being out of control and the fear of failure. Letting go of tasks on our to-do list frees up time that needs to be filled. While this is one of the goals of delegation, it can also leave us feeling unsure how to fill this space in our diary. It requires strategic thinking and planning, and it can be hard to know where to begin. This puts us out of our comfort zone and requires us to leave well-trodden paths, and maybe even take risks. Being worried about how to fill freed-up time is completely natural. It is also normal to experience some anxiety around a loss of control. It’s all part of the journey towards growing our team and organisation and developing exciting new ideas for the future. How can we find the courage to let go? Letting go of control and filling our time with high value tasks that lie outside our comfort zone can be a scary process. It is important to acknowledge this discomfort as a normal part of the process. The fear never goes away, but we can learn to work with it and view it as an indicator that we are doing something right! Leaning into this fear and discomfort requires courage. We have developed a five-step process to help you. This process is designed to help us fill the time we have freed up by letting go of some of the “busy tasks” that occupy our time but aren’t strategic or high-value projects. That way, we are not left with a void of free time that we are tempted to fill with more busy work, or the daunting task of strategy and vision development. 1. Delegate - Identify tasks to be delegated and team members you will empower to take them on. 2. Time - Calculate how much time this delegation will free up in your diary. 3. Brainstorm - Identify strategic leadership projects that fall into your area, with the input of a senior leader if necessary. 4. Tasks - Break these leadership projects into bitesize, practical tasks. 5. Schedule - Put these higher value tasks on your to-do list and into your diary, instead of the busy work you have delegated. Following this process requires regular commitment: we need to continuously follow the new routine in order to strengthen our courage muscles and see results. The benefits of this approach are easy to see. We get to focus on more strategic projects without getting overwhelmed, and our teams become more empowered and are able to take more ownership of their tasks. By passing the baton to others, we can safely let go and allow them to grab and run with it. We develop mutual trust that fosters a high-performance environment.

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The Second C of Empowerment - Contracting The Second C of Empowerment is Contracting. Contracting ensures clarity, shared understanding, and a common vision of success between you as the leader and your team member. Contracting is not just about assigning tasks; it's a deliberate process of setting out the conditions and expectations around a task so the individual can take full ownership of it. This process is integral to the concept of empowerment, where ownership is the flipside of the coin. Here's a practical guide to contracting during the delegation process, broken down into four key steps: Step 1: Meet with Team Member to Discuss Task Begin the contracting process by scheduling a meeting with the team member. During this meeting, introduce the task and discuss it in detail. Encourage open dialogue, allowing the team member to ask questions and seek clarification. This initial interaction sets the stage for a shared understanding of the task's significance and the expectations associated with it. Step 2: Explain Task to Team Member Once the task has been introduced, provide a comprehensive explanation. Clearly outline the goals, desired outcomes, and any specific requirements. Address any potential challenges or concerns, fostering transparency in communication. This step ensures that the team member not only understands the task but also its significance within the organisation. Step 3: Agree Deliverables The third step involves reaching a mutual agreement on deliverables. Define what success looks like and outline specific expectations. Ensure that both parties are aligned on the scope and criteria for success. This ensures the team member is clear about the goal of the task, and what is expected of them. Step 4: Schedule Regular Support Check-ins The fourth and final step in the contracting process is pre-scheduling regular support check-ins. These check-ins enable you to see how the project is going and provide assistance if needed, without micromanaging. This ongoing communication reinforces a sense of collaboration and accountability. More on check-ins later when we discuss the 5th C. Tips for Successful Contracting • Clarity is Key: Clearly communicate the vision of success, task details, and expectations. • Mutual Agreement: Ensure both parties agree on the scope, deliverables, and success criteria. • Regular Check-ins: Schedule periodic check-ins to offer support and answer questions. • Adaptability: Be open to adjustments and discussions as tasks evolve or circumstances change. • Encourage Ownership: Emphasise the importance of the team member taking ownership and accountability for the delegated task. By incorporating these steps and principles, contracting becomes a powerful tool for fostering collaboration, ensuring clarity, and ultimately, driving success in achieving goals.

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The Third C of Empowerment - Confidence The Third C of Empowerment is all about confidence - authentic confidence. No matter how skilled or experienced they are, if a team member lacks confidence, they will not take the right level of ownership or reach their full potential. Building confidence in your team members runs much deeper than simply showering them with compliments. It is about acknowledging and recognising the value they bring to the team and organisation through their skills, contribution, and achievements. Genuinely acknowledge their contributions Moving beyond generic praise by providing specific and detailed feedback is a powerful strategy in building confidence within a team. Rather than a simple "you did a great job today," take the time to articulate the aspects of their performance that stood out. For example, highlight the specific skills they demonstrated, commend their problem-solving approach, or acknowledge their effective collaboration with others. Not only does this communicate your appreciation, but it also shows that you notice and value the unique contributions each team member brings to the table. By being specific in your praise, you boost their confidence and provide them with insights into their strengths, encouraging them to further develop and leverage these skills in future tasks. Encourage teaching Encouraging team members to take on a teaching role can be an effective way of building confidence in the workplace. This could be through presenting on their project at a team meeting or holding a ‘lunch and learn’ event on their area of expertise. When individuals are given the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with their colleagues, it boosts their confidence and fosters a sense of expertise and value within the team. This approach promotes a collaborative learning environment where team members feel empowered and recognised for their contributions. By allowing team members to teach, you create a culture that values diverse expertise and promotes continuous learning. This ultimately enhances the overall confidence of your team. Let them fail Embracing failure as a part of the learning process is crucial in building confidence within a team. Allowing team members the freedom to take risks and make mistakes creates a safe and supportive environment for growth. When individuals understand that failure is not a setback, but rather an opportunity to learn and improve, they become more resilient and self-assured. You can model this in your own leadership by sharing examples of when you have learned from failure. This perspective shift encourages innovation and creativity, fostering a team culture that values both successes and setbacks. By acknowledging the importance of letting them fail, you empower your team to embrace challenges, learn from experiences, and ultimately build unwavering confidence in their abilities.

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The Fourth C of Empowerment – Capabilities The Fourth C is Capabilities. Capability building is often overlooked in the empowerment process, yet it is absolutely crucial to its success. In this section, we will explore the two sides of capability building, and the advantage of effective capability building of our teams. The Capability Venn Diagram When we think about capability building, our mind immediately goes to upskilling. However, skills and expertise represent only half of what effective capability building entails. It is equally important to consider the capacity, or bandwidth, of our teams before we empower them with new tasks. In other words, do they have enough time to take on more work? Once we have established that our teams have enough capacity to take on their new tasks, we must assess what skills they need in order to complete them. Here are some guiding questions that can help you with the assessment: 1. What skills are required to complete the task? 2. What skills do our teams have already? 3. What additional skills are needed? 4. How do we ensure our teams learn these new skills? As always, communication is key when assessing your team’s skill requirements. Using our coaching approach, ask questions to find out where they already feel confident, and where more training is necessary. Have open conversations about how capability can be built, and the best approach to it. Refrain from telling your team what programme to take or what skill to learn. Instead, listen to them and tailor the right skill-building process to meet their needs. Building new capabilities and strengthening existing ones aids the empowerment process. It gives our teams the right tools to complete their new tasks independently and the self-confidence to explore their own solutions.

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How to build capabilities within your team 1. Match skills to tasks: Consider your team's unique skills and goals when assigning tasks as a way to foster growth. Misaligning tasks with employees' goals and skillsets can lead to feelings of defeat and negatively affecting morale. A great way to build capability in your team is to provide individuals with tasks that are challenging yet achievable with their current skills, and in line with their long-term goals. This gives them a sense of achievement in a shorter timeframe, which can build confidence within the team. 2. Tailor training opportunities: When sourcing or creating training programmes and opportunities, consider the capabilities you aim to build, individual learning styles, and specific areas for growth. Not everyone in the team has the same learning requirements, and the training programmes pursued should reflect that. There is a wide range of training methods to choose from, including on-the-job training, internal courses, online courses, and external learning programmes. 3. Embrace blended learning: Blended learning is an approach that combines various methods to develop skills. In addition to traditional classroom training, blended learning includes on-the-job training, mentorship, coaching, job rotation, secondment, shadowing, and online courses. This is a flexible and cost-effective way of allowing staff to learn through different channels, enhancing their skills and knowledge. Capability building is an investment into our team and organisation. It not only ensures that our teams have the right skills and bandwidth to be empowered, but also that they are ready and equipped to meet the fast-changing demands of a growing business.

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The Fifth C of Empowerment – Check-Ins By conducting pre-scheduled check-ins, you can ensure that employees are supported to achieve well-defined goals, while also affording them autonomy in meeting those goals. It is important to adopt a mind-set of “checking in” with your team rather than “checking up” on them. Checking up on your team may look like asking them whether they have finished certain tasks or monitoring their approaches to these tasks. This is classic micromanagement, which makes people feel that their intuition and abilities are not valued. It makes it impossible for them to take ownership of the task, which in turn leads to low motivation and dampened creativity. However, checking-in with people is a vital part of empowering them to reach their goals. This sounds more like: "What support do you need to complete this project?", or "Have you faced any obstacles that I can help you with?" Using this approach, you can check in with people and learn about how their projects are going without them feeling as if they are being watched or micromanaged. Most importantly, you will be better equipped to offer your team the resources and assistance they need. "Checking in is really about collaboration; checking up is about suffocation." - Harvard Business Review When checking in, it is important to avoid the temptation to jump in, take over the task, and “rescue” the staff member if they experience challenges. This brings us on to our next C - Coaching.

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The Sixth C of Empowerment – Coaching Communication is a two-way street. One of the key habits we need to develop in order to move from controlling to trusting is to ASK instead of TELL. Here, our guiding principle is: Good leaders listen with the same passion that they want to be heard. Especially in busy day-to-day operations, leaders might resort to telling people what to do because it is faster — the so-called top-down way of managing. However, this practice has multiple shortcomings: it inhibits ownership and detracts from our team’s agency. It also stifles the unique talents and curiosity within our teams. So how can we avoid the habit of telling people what to do, and instead empower our teams and support them to find their own solutions? It’s all about asking the right questions. What does that mean? Asking the right questions assumes that we trust our teams to take ownership and deliver tasks themselves instead of being told what to do. It means that instead of giving restrictive instructions or providing solutions, we create a scaffold of questions which allows them to find the solutions themselves. This process has evolved from ancient Greece, where the philosopher Socrates practiced his Socratic method, a dialogue that is based on questions and answers to draw out ideas and stimulate independent thinking. Why is it important? Asking powerful questions enables our teams to think more independently. It allows us as leaders to view our teams as experts, capable of finding solutions that we would not have come up with by ourselves. It treats team members as individuals with their own history, experiences, and creativity. It gives them more personal involvement with projects, which strengthens self-confidence in the workplace and creates a stronger bond to the team and the work they do.

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How do we do it? To help you empower your teams through coaching, we have developed the Making Shift Happen FRAME Model of Coaching to Empower: Making Shift Happen FRAME Model of Coaching to Empower

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The Seventh C of Empowerment – Celebrate The seventh and final C of Empowerment is Celebrate! Incorporating a culture of celebration can be a powerful method of empowerment, boosting confidence and morale within the workplace. Recognising Individual Achievements One key aspect of empowerment lies in acknowledging and celebrating individual wins. It's not just about the big milestones but also the small victories that contribute to the overall success of the team. Taking the time to genuinely praise an individual for their specific contributions sends a powerful message – their efforts matter. Whether it's a creative solution to a problem, consistent dedication, or mastering a new skill, spotlighting these accomplishments fosters a sense of pride and confidence in the individual. Cultivating a Team Celebration Culture While individual recognition is crucial, the strength of a team lies in its collaborative spirit. Celebrating team wins creates a sense of camaraderie and unity, reinforcing the idea that collective efforts lead to shared success. When one shines, we all shine. Whether it is reaching a project milestone, exceeding targets, or overcoming obstacles together, celebrating achievements builds a positive and empowering environment. Not only does this boost the confidence of each team member, but it also encourages collaboration and a shared sense of purpose, enhancing the team's overall performance. Celebrating Your Team It is important to be authentic and engaged when celebrating your team. When team members share their achievements, responding with enthusiasm, genuine interest, and positive reinforcement goes beyond mere acknowledgment – it fosters a culture of encouragement and support. Active Constructive Responding (ACR) is a communication technique that focuses on providing positive and engaged responses to the good news or achievements of others. In an active constructive response, the responder genuinely engages with the person sharing the news, showing interest and enthusiasm. Key features of ACR include: 1. Actively Engaging: The responder actively participates in the conversation, showing genuine interest in the other person's news or achievement. 2. Positive Reinforcement: The response is supportive, reinforcing the positive emotions associated with the shared news. 3. Asking Questions: The responder may ask questions to learn more about the details of the positive event, showing a desire to understand and celebrate the experience with the person. 4. Expressing Genuine Emotion: Active constructive responses involve expressing genuine emotions such as happiness, excitement, or pride in response to the shared news. Not only does using ACR acknowledge team members' accomplishments, but it also actively engages with and celebrates their successes. By practicing ACR, you create an atmosphere where individuals feel valued and recognised for their contributions, reinforcing their self-esteem and confidence. This communication approach plays a pivotal role in nurturing a positive team dynamic, promoting a collaborative spirit, and ultimately boosting the confidence of each team member.

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The 7C's of Empowerment Checklist: Building the Habit Questions Yes No If no, answer below: What got in the way and how can you overcome it? 1. Have you met the staff member to discuss the task? Yes No 2. Have you explained the task to the staff member? Yes No 3. Have you been clear about the vision of success and what you want the other person to do? Yes No 4. Have you agreed deliverables of the delegated task with the staff member and pre-scheduled regular support check-ins? Yes No 5. Have you asked the staff member what resources they need to be capable of delivering the task (training, information, mentoring, workforce, etc.) and have you provided the requested support? Yes No 6. Did you let go and trust the staff member to own their assigned task? Yes No 7. Have you executed the pre-scheduled check-in meetings to receive updates and know what help is required? Yes No 8. Have you avoided the temptation to jump in and rescue" the staff member if they experience challenges? Yes No 9. Did you use targeted questions to help the staff members find their own solutions to the challenges they face? Yes No 10. Have you genuinely acknowledged their contributions to the team? Yes No 11. Have you celebrated individual and group successes? Yes No

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Conclusion The journey from a traditional approach of control and micromanagement to one of trust and empowerment can be a transformative process. As leaders, we need to embrace the concept of empowerment as not just a buzzword, but a fundamental shift in mindset that can yield remarkable results. At its core, empowerment involves trusting and supporting others to operate at their highest potential. It requires leaders to let go of control, fostering an environment where individuals take ownership and responsibility for their tasks. The transition from controlling to trusting may be challenging, but it is a crucial step towards becoming intentional leaders, driving growth, and cultivating a culture of success. Overcoming the common fears associated with empowerment, such as loss of control or the fear of failure, requires leaders to develop the courage to let go in a controlled and strategic manner. The scaffold provided by the 7 Cs of Empowerment—Courage, Contracting, Confidence, Capabilities, Check-Ins, Coaching, and Celebrating—offers a structured and safe framework for leaders to let go and trust their teams. Using the 7 Cs as a guide, leaders can navigate the empowerment process with clarity and purpose. It is important to recognise that empowerment is not a one-time action but an ongoing process. It is a leadership philosophy that, when embraced authentically, has the power to change organisations and yield transformational results. Creating conditions that nurture trust and provide the right support allows leaders to unlock the full potential of their teams. By celebrating both individual and team successes, we reinforce the value of empowerment and inspire a continued commitment to growth. Ultimately, empowerment creates stronger leaders, teams, and organisations.

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Acknowledgements A sincere thank you to Louise Coomes, Anne Mahler, PhD, Sharon Murphy, Cath Wiley and Victoria Lincoln for their contributions to this micro book. If you prefer to listen to content, check out the Making Shift Happen podcast.

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The Honesty Box Project This is the fourth electronic micro-book in the Honesty Box Project, which was launched by Jay Chopra PhD of Making Shift Happen in September 2023. The principle of the Honesty Box Project is quite straight-forward. We produce electronic micro-books (20 minute reads) on self, team, and organisational development topics on a regular basis, and make them available for free. In turn, we invite you the reader to make a small donation to a charity of your choice or conduct a random act of kindness. This could be something like paying for the coffee of the person behind you in the queue. Join our LinkedIn Honesty Box Project Group to be the first to know when new books drop! You can find out more about our work here on our website:  

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