Every day, as a coach, I have the great privilege of helping managers and teams improve their performance and dynamics. I am often asked: How can I empower my team? How can I make my employees more proactive, accountable, innovative and agile? In my experience, what really helps leaders have the desired impact is a set of 5 elements (our 5Cs model). Leaders and teams that focus on these 5 elements, are successful at empowering their team. They create a culture of accountability in their organizations.
Is transformation possible?
In the current competitive context, all teams must work towards a continual evolution and transformation to attain a high level of excellence and therefore, succeed. A corporate culture transformation towards higher empowerment is possible. When teams decide to question status quo and discuss change in order to increase influence and results, transformation naturally follows… every time!
Teams will boost their ability to listen and collaborate, clarify their
objective and mission, move away from the “I” toward the “we.” And we can never take for granted that teams have reached their peak. Similar to athletes, we can always reach a new level of performance through efforts and focus. How does your team regularly question dynamics, level of trust, conditions to win the game? What are the benefits of doing so regularly?
I interviewed Paul Lirette, General Manager at GlaxoSmithKline Pharma Japan with whom I worked for many years. In his role, he impacted organizational cultures around the world. He believes that ‘’ It takes time to change a culture. It happens through repetition of the vision and the ‘why’ [the destination], using different angles and leading by example in using a leader-coach approach.’’
The 5 elements to act on to empower your team
Firstly, you have to connect with yourself and others, getting to know yourself better and developing yourself. You will discover your talents, your blind spots, your ego, your hidden intentions and your full potential. You will then increase your awareness and gain better impact on others and on the team’s performance. As Paul said, ‘’people want to grow’’. Considering you are your best ‘’tool’’ and want to succeed as a manager, how do you ensure you continuously increasing your self-awareness and growth?
Next, create winning conditions by setting a clear destination, the ‘’Why’’ and through fostering an environment of trust, where you and others can show vulnerability and true self. With trust and a clear purpose, people around you will dare taking risks and potentially make mistakes. Paul says ‘’one of the biggest challenges we face globally and individually in this society is to think beyond ourselves, to think about the bigger purpose we have in life, and the bigger purpose of why we work’’. How do you build high level trust within your team? How can you be clear on the team’s ‘’why’’ and destination?
The trust you will build with others is the basis of a coaching approach which is so useful to empowering your team. When you learn how to master the coaching approach, you will develop your team in a new way. When listening to people rather than having a top-down approach, when asking questions instead of giving answers, they will start to autonomously think and find solutions. You will delegate more and get your people to truly engage, gaining creativity and autonomy. I have seen Paul being a good listener and coach. ‘’I can buy you a fish or teach you how to fish. I strongly believe that one of the best ways to do that is to create an environment where you have insightful questions’’. How good are you at listening, asking questions and letting people think for themselves?
Putting in place a team contract will take you a step further. It will allow you to clarify your own individual commitments and those of each team member. Your team contract would state what you want to accomplish, as ONE team. It would include the behaviors, and norms to support it and how you will measure your success (KPI’S). Paul shares the importance of being transparent about the metrics and he takes the time to ’’explain the why, the values and the expectations’’. He also implements team norms and talks about his recent favorite one ‘’do we challenge each other enough?’’. What could be the impact of implementing a team contract with your team?
Finally, to foster a culture of empowerment and accountability within your organization, you would have to develop a contextual leadership approach. This involves becoming a champion at holding real conversations, getting input and leading with your head, your heart and your gut (vs the traditional top-down approach).What does that mean for you?
What should be your first step to empower your team?
Work on yourself! Ask for candid feedback on your impact. Take psychometric tests or 360 feedback. Read books on leadership development. Enroll in management training. Hire a coach if you want to accelerate your personal growth.
Paul is an inspiring example of empowerment when he says ‘’I own my development. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I seek feedback and I seek help from people, I use my 180 feedback quite a lot. I think about the areas I need to improve myself or to become better at and I pick a book around this topic to help me out. I read a lot, I read a book every 3 weeks.’’
We can all understand and spin good management and leadership theories. Integrating them into our day-to-day actions, however, is the real challenge for all of us to truly empower our teams and create a culture of accountability. Transforming yourself and your teams requires courage to dare to do things differently, to step out of your comfort zone, to make mistakes and experience mishaps.
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire.