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Become a Better Leader: Empower Others

January 05, 2015

The result of sharing your dreams and inspiring others to do whatever it is you’re aspiring to do is employee empowerment. As a leader, you have the responsibility to create a work environment that fosters the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways.

This is part four in a six-part series on how to become a better leader. Read part three.

The result of sharing your dreams and inspiring others to do whatever it is you’re aspiring to do is employee empowerment. As a leader, you have the responsibility to create a work environment that fosters the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. This includes removing the barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in ways that help them feel powerful.

There is one barrier that many small business owners have inadvertently built, yet don’t realize it. More than a barrier, it’s something that’s often referred to as Small Business Syndrome. In fact, according to SCORE, counselors to American small business, it has identified two types of business owners that run these owner-centric businesses.

  • There are small business owners. We call them SBOs.
  • There are small owners of business. Their employees call them SOBs.

Well, it may be impolite, but SCORE says that the latter of the two insist on controlling every facet of their business. They tend to delegate blame instead of responsibility. And, what little responsibility they do delegate is typically without the authority needed to be effective.

If you plan to grow as a small business owner into a small business leader, you must learn to trust the employees that you hire. It’s infinitely easier to do this if you have planned and properly shared your vision with your employees. Knowing that you’ve established a solid foundation will provide direction for your business and allow others to uphold your standards.

If you’re wondering what happens in an environment where employees aren’t empowered, here are a couple of commonalities:

  • Qualified people in this environment last about a year, then move on to growth environments, often to a competitor.
  • There is a lack of challenges in the daily routine because the owner dictates what should be done.
  • There is little training provided to employees because the owner considers him or herself an expert on anything an employee would need to know.
  • There are few incentive programs.
  • People work in ruts. If they last five years, they get six months’ worth of experience and repeat it ten times.
  • Often, qualified job candidates are rejected only because they don’t understand the system. SCORE stresses that attitude is the key to any business endeavor. Leaders recognize skill and then offer training and support so that employees feel confident and aspire to succeed in support of the vision.

There is one tried and true litmus test in gauging to what degree you suffer from Small Business Syndrome. Go on vacation. Could you leave the business for two weeks and feel confident that it would continue to run as you’d expect it to? After all – you’ve hired these employees – you should trust them.

Next: Learn how to lead yourself

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