In a conversation with a business colleague today we talked about the need for more leaders to understand the concept of empowerment and how the creation of an empowerment culture in their organizations could be pivotal to their success.
During a meeting with the senior executive team of a major manufacturing company, I had them choose where they thought they were on a corporate growth stage continuum. They were to pick at which stage they thought their company was and explain why they chose it. They could describe their culture as either Directing, Involving, Delegating or Empowering. Then they were to choose in which stage they would want their company to be.
They thought they were in ‘delegating’ and they wanted to be in ’empowering’. We then gave them a questionnaire and a set of criteria which together would determine at which stage they really were and just what they needed to do to move to their desired stage. Through this step they came to realize they were in ‘involving’ and actually wanted to be in ‘involving’. The shock of this reality gave us the opportunity to help them understand what is really required to create these higher levels of corporate culture. It also caused them to finally admit, and voice out loud, what they were willing and not willing to allow or give up. And it all has to do with ‘Trust and Control’. They came face-to-face with the real truth about themselves–they didn’t want to give up the amount of control necessary to empower their employees. That realization also gave them the answer they were seeking as to why their company was having the problems it was.
My colleague shared two stories with me which illustrate these concepts perfectly. They happened on the same day.
Story 1: He went into a local coffee house which he does every day and has done for over a year, ordered his usual and when he reached into his pocket for his wallet, it wasn’t there–he had forgotten it at home. Asking if he could bring the money back later he was told by the attendant, “I don’t think I can do that.” The manager overheard the conversation from across the room and yelled over the crowd, “we can’t do that but I could lend you the money.” At which point a person in line gave him the money, he paid and left.
Story 2: Later that afternoon he stopped by an ice cream store to pick up a quart of his favorite ice cream. Getting ready to pay again he reached into his pocket and immediately remembered he didn’t have his wallet. The cashier said, “no problem, bring it in the next time you come.”
Which store do you think will be more successful? In which store would you choose to work? For which store would you go above and beyond, even when not requested? Which store would have the most employee and customer loyalty–which always translates into higher profitability?
These stories don’t just have to do with stores and smaller organizations. They relate to every entity, large or small–even families. The two main components necessary for an empowerment culture is to give ‘trust’ and give away ‘control’. That is difficult for many, almost impossible for some, but crucial for everyone.
if you want more and more sustainable success in any entity, group or organization you lead, trust more and control less. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
To your Intentional Success!