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Do you empower others?

So, we’ve previously discussed why it is important for you to build consensus in an organization in most every major decision.  To do that, you must be able to relinquish some degree of power, overriding decisions made by consensus only with some thought and certainly with an explanation to those involved.

Never fear empowering others

If you’re secure in your position, you should never fear empowering direct reports to make decisions that fall within the resources allocated to them and within the budget agreed to with them.

Why not to be a micro-manager

A micro-manager cannot cede that kind of authority, even within pre-arranged limits, and as a result meddles with decisions made by direct reports, removing authority from each whenever one of those moves are made, and rendering the individual one degree more impotent in the eyes of that person’s reports.

Helping your direct reports empower others

On the other hand, a great CEO or manager not only empowers his or her direct reports, s/he directs those people to do the same with their reports down the line.  Of course you do this within limits that should seem obvious: financial impact has been provided for within the plan; and no other individuals or departments are affected negatively by such an empowered action without notice and involvement.

Helping your direct reports grow in their positions

[Email readers, continue here…]  The more power you cede, the more you become a teacher and the more your direct reports grow in their positions.  Further, the more you share your decisions, the more you prepare those below to assume your position if ever necessary or appropriate.

Doing it right to help your organization scale and grow

If you cannot or will not empower your direct reports, you must ask yourself: what’s the deal?  If it is insecurity that is the root cause, then the best course of action is to share the power even more quickly, as you’ll look and feel more like the group is supportive of you and your position.  If you are a micro-manager and are unwilling to allow those below to fail, even with more minor decisions, then you are restricting their growth in their positions, certainly causing dissatisfaction in their ranks, and missing the most important opportunities to enable scaling your organization to a much larger size.

  • There are 3 km of wire in the wiring harness of a Model S, there are 1.5 km approx in a Model 3. According to a patent filing there may be a mere 100 meters of wiring harness (and it is not even anything like a wiring harness – more IOT connectors as far as I can see) in the upcoming Tesla Model Y.

    I doubt that Elon designed that revolutionary solution to a problem plaguing auto manufacturers for over 100 years – I am guessing he just walked up to a car on the floor one day and got wildly frustrated that no robot could do the job of inserting the wiring harness and told someone to find a new way whatever it takes. Same as Jobs with the one button ipod. “Get rid of the friggin butons,” is all he needed to say or think. Emancipation or empowerment, whatever anyone calls it, did the rest.

    Empowerment costs a company exactly nothing. I ran a company with about 80 telesales/support front line personnel and I personally insisted I be involved in the indoctrination of all new hires. I had one message I wanted them to remember – “do whatever it takes, your management will stand behind you however stupid it is.”

    Managers would ask me to put some kind of $$ value or limit on it. I’d ask “why?” It hasn’t cost us anything yet.

    Empowerment (and the feeling of freedom that your crew gets from it) is fantastically free. Your people are free to do great things (such as what is about to happen with the Model Y). Poor GM and BMW must be quaking in their boots at the empowerment that obsoleted years of muddled thinking and even more muddled and unreliable wiring.

    Right now today, I am typing this in California. I own a tiny hotel in Costa Rica. Tonight the hotel is full. I am not there. Berni

  • Randy Hartshorn

    I enjoy your comments. Keep them coming.

    As part of our curricula, we reference a book entitled “Turn the
    Ship Around” by David Marquet. The book introduces a term
    called “emancipation”: the next level up from “empowerment”.
    To wit:

    “Emancipation” is fundamentally different from empowerment.
    With Emancipation we are recognizing the inherent genius,
    energy, and creativity in all people, and allowing those talents
    to emerge. We realize that we don’t have the power to give
    these talents to others, or “empower” them to use them, only
    the power to prevent them from coming out. Emancipation
    results when teams have been given decision making control
    and have the additional characteristics of competence and clarity.
    You know you have an emancipated team when you no longer
    need to empower them. Indeed, you no longer have the ability
    to empower them because they are not relying on you as their
    source of power.

    He calls it “Emancipation” but it sounds like “taking ownership”
    to me.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    I would take this a step further, and empower not only your direct reports, but let everyone throughout the organization know that their feedback and suggestions are welcome, and will at least be acknowledged if not always acted upon. There is some danger in interacting only with direct reports, because you want to make sure that good ideas come your way from anywhere and everywhere in the organization. Ideally, one of the tasks of each of these direct reports ought to be establishing an interactive communications environment within his or her sphere of operations.

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