How to empower others

For the purpose of this article, empowerment is defined as ‘wanting to take accountability for a task or outcome’. The key word is ‘want’.

So, how do you get employees to ‘want’ to take on additional tasks or activities?

There are a couple of ways I want to share with you:

1. Coaching

Coaching is a process of asking questions and listening with a view to extracting answers from the coaching recipient.

When a colleague who you know is quite competent comes to you and says ‘how do I do this task’, instead of telling them how to do it, you can say ‘How would you like to do it, what are your ideas?’

By moving towards coaching, you begin to empower the coaching recipient because they are coming up with solutions to issues that work for them.  It allows you to be ‘open minded’ and develop a learner mindset, because you may hear ideas that you had not thought of, and are much better than your own.  As a result, you begin to empower colleagues.

If you continue to ask questions that get colleagues thinking, then they will begin to develop solutions for themselves.  The benefit of this is that they empower themselves to take action and they come to you less, for advice.

2. Letting go of ‘control and command’

Imagine you are in a meeting and you have asked your team ‘Please brainstorm ideas on how we can deliver great service to our customers’.  The team start to come up with good ideas and you say ‘great ideas; John, I would like you to look into idea number 1 and action it; Rosie, can you look at idea number 2 and make that happen etc etc.

This is NOT empowerment, it is delegation!  You can imagine that the team members will be reluctant in the future to come up with ideas if they are going to have to action all of them!!

Brainstorming ideas is great, however, the secret to empowerment in this context is to say to the team ‘ great solutions, is anyone willing to look into these ideas and action them?’  You will have more chance of success that some people will sign up to help.  This is far more powerful than keeping control and delegating more work to team members.

In summary, let go of control and command and genuinely empower your team by asking them for their thoughts on how to do things.  You will notice they will be far more willing to do more tasks and take on more challenges when you value their opinion and ideas.

If you would like to train yourself or others to be an effective coach or require external coaches in your business, please contact