Culture – Involvement: Empowerment

by Ron Potter

Organizations with highly empowered employees have a couple of things in common:

Processes Pushed Downward

The first common point is that processes are pushed down the hierarchy to the lowest possible level.  When I say processes, the survey measures explicitly Information, planning, and decisions.

This point starts with the genuine belief that the information needed for good planning and decision making resides with the people closest to the action.  I used the words “genuine belief” because I’ve seen too many leaders and leadership teams proclaim that the needed information resides and is better understood at levels below them but their ego and position keep them from letting go of their own beliefs and assumptions.  They also believe they are the leaders of the organization because they are smarter and know better what to do then those who have not yet reached their level in the company.  If you’re a member of a high-level team, be very, very careful that you don’t let that ego prevent you from hearing and understanding the information from the people who are closer to the action.

During my blog series on being a Leader, I talked about the Sweet Rewards of Humility.  You can follow the link below if you have more interest.

My point is, you must be a humble leader in order to empower your people and organization.

Positive Impact and Involved

The second thing that organizations with highly empowered people have in common: Employees believe they can have a positive impact and are therefore highly involved in their individual work and the work of their team.  They are good at integrating their work with that of their team.

Integrating Work with Others

The key to positive impact and involvement? Integrating with others.  It takes good teamwork.  We’ll look at the elements of a Team Orientation in a future blog.  But for now, let’s remind ourselves of the aspects of building a good team:

  • Truth: Being able to speak the reality of a situation.  This ability must reside both in peer-to-peer relationships as well as a top-down, bottom-up relationship.
  • Respect:  We must respect the opinions and observations of everyone.  When people feel respected, they are willing to share and integrate their work with others.
  • Elegance: Good integration of work means reducing the friction caused naturally between different parts of an organization.
  • Commitment:  Integration means that sometimes, other parts of the organization must benefit.  It is possible to improve each part of the organization but not to maximize each part of the organization.  A good team requires a commitment to the best for the overall company, not just a particular part of the organization.
Empowerment is required for good involvement.
Good involvement is a requirement of a great culture.


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