The Empowering Leader: Ways to Empower Your Team Leaders to Perform Better – One Step at a Time

Empowerment is more than “open communication” and “growth opportunities”

As the concept of employee empowerment continues to spread through an increasingly globalised environment, corporations and companies all over the world have begun to recognise the truly incredible power and potential that a sense of empowerment can bring into a workplace.

Many businesses are putting hard-work and effort into learning about how they can become empowering places of work, and are implementing actively.

Unfortunately there are other businesses who may see the potential for immediate gratification and material benefit, but may not make the time or effort to intentionally explore true empowerment in the workplace.

This has paved the way for the concept of empowerment to become a buzzword often used in hiring practice.

A quick review of any job posting board/ site is guaranteed to reveal countless roles with promises of “open communication”, “growth opportunities”, “job satisfaction”, “career development”, “flexibility” and even “Feel Empowered Fridays“! 

According to a 2017 study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), only 29 percent of employees identified that they were happy with the career growth opportunities available to them. 

Employee satisfaction and empowerment go beyond simple career progression opportunities.

While these aspects are undoubtedly important in their own right, true empowerment goes beyond the idea of simply adding comfort and security to work.

High-performing teams require more than surface-level gestures if they’re to achieve and sustain their full potential. Teams perform better when they’re valued not just for their results, but for their individual members – managers and employees alike.

As we’ll see later on, one of the best ways to empower your leaders, is to empower your employees across the board, and vice-versa – regardless of role and seniority

At the heart of the matter, every team member is important and plays their unique role in the group. So empowerment starts at the core level of treating each person in the business with this respect and understanding. From that point we can more authentically encourage autonomy, creativity, and risk-taking, thus supporting a sense of ownership and purpose for every employee.

When we work to:

  • instil a sense of confidence, 
  • enable autonomous decision making (without micromanaging the outcome), and
  • support the wellbeing of our people,

..we actually encourage a culture in the workplace where individuals are encouraged to bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table, knowing that they will be heard, championed, and respected.

Develop Empowering Leaders, Create a Culture of Employee Empowerment

Wide-angle image showing the inside of an indoor rock-climbing gym, sybolising the support that a leader needs to lead well

So where do you start? What’s the first step?

After more than two decades working with dozens of organisations in this area, one of the most interesting things I’ve seen over and over again, is the ripple effect that moves throughout an organisation when change is made at the “top”, which then flows onward.

To empower employees, great leaders need the ability to foster a sense of autonomy, creativity, and ownership within their teams.

The biased paradigm of using performance management to force individuals to push through challenges and roadblocks, is simply the use of fear to remove psychological safety – with a hope that it somehow translates to constructive behaviour and better overall financial performance.

In this scenario, how likely is it that a healthy relationship of mutual trust is formed between the two parties? 

Employees need work environments that establish trust, and an open dialogue, and provide actionable, constructive feedback, along with the tools they need to deliver creative solutions. In this environment, employees are more likely to create the future success that they strive for, and leaders are also likely to see stronger job performance in the immediate/ short term.

This is what a work culture of empowerment can deliver for organisations and management teams, regardless of industry and market!

When leaders are empowered, their management styles often change. With the right support, they can empower their teams even through their natural being.

Their teams are more likely to feel supported, valued, and confident in their abilities. This, in turn, helps team members to take risks and try new things with the shared intention of seeing collective success! 

As each team member discovers their own power to make decisions and cause positive change, their confidence grows, and collaboration and innovation flourish, leading to a workplace culture that thrives!

This enables individuals and the group to ride the waves of uncertainty and change together – which is essential for continued sustainability, performance and wellbeing.

By empowering leaders and managers, organisations can create a positive ripple effect that permeates throughout the entire workplace. 

Below we’ve captured key ways you can empower leaders and start the process of overflow in your business.

Ways to Empower Your Team Leaders in Every Step

Support the Capacity

Support their capacity to know themselves. Leaders must be able to explore who they are and how they react and respond to their environment, the demands at work as well as the people they have to work with and manage. This is key to enabling their best performance to be experienced and shared..

Giving your employees and managers the space and safety to know themselves, and explore their own triggers and emotional regulation, is vital.

Encourage Awareness

Encourage mindfulness learning and practice.

With this practice, leaders can consciously bring themselves into a place of inner calm and balance, before they respond to the work demands around them.

Cultivating a mindset and approach of being non-judgmental (and being present with curiosity), is a key to enabling greater individual and collective team potential to emerge. It physiologically shifts individuals from stress activation to inner calm

Conscious Space and Right Resources

Provide conscious space and let your employees and your leaders connect with their colleagues to foster a deeper connection beyond the “task list”.

This enables many things including showing appreciation with authenticity, and the development of deeper collective trust and disclosure. This helps form a much stronger foundation and a more robust resilience in teams. 

Conscious Exploration 

Conscious exploration of what “change” and “uncertainty” means (beyond the surface level of the task), allows people to explore what lies beneath the surface. 

It addresses the “being”, rather than just the “doing”, and can help open up perspectives and thoughts that might otherwise not be easily visible. Leaders can become more aware of their strengths, their challenges, and their leadership style.

Knowing is half the battle!

Diagram depicting the difference between doing and being - in the empowered workplace

Be Human Together

“Being human together” recognises that we are experiencing our workplace environments in both the story and the experience.

This helps us understand that we don’t just have different ways of working or delegating tasks, but that we all have different:

  • ways of interpreting what we see, 
  • stories that we tell ourselves, 
  • lenses and filters that we run our own stories through.
Diagram explaining the difference between the story and the experience - being human together

Credit: MBSM Foundational Teaching Program, The Yarra Valley Living Centre

Encourage Open Questioning!

Encourage your employees, teams and leaders to question their embedded assumptions and known patterns. These can be in the form of questions like:

  • What do I automatically assume in this?
  • Where do I really sit with wanting to please authority vs expressing my truth?

A great exercise in this is to sit with something like this, and explore unbiased thoughts and opinions.


Enable your employees’ exploration of their personal why.

Think of the natural demands that work places on our own lives. Many of us spend up to a third of our lives (or more), at work.

What reasons might someone have to care so intrinsically about work, that they really connect in a meaningful way to the goals that have been set and the things that are being accomplished? For a disengaged team member, work might reduced to nothing more than a repetitive algorithm of “complete tasks, make a living”

It is a miracle that we’re here. And the moments that we can co-create, are more than just work. This is about every precious moment of our lives that we’re spending together.

Appreciation goes a long way, and so does our intentional inner alignment and support of the goals that our leaders have for their own lives, people and experiences.

Intentional Connection

This point is about being intentional in the matter of connecting together as human beings.

Being intentional about anything requires effort and change. There is an energy cost when we act with intentionality.

Before practising this, make sure you’re open to new perspectives, ideals and opinions. Part of the beauty in being human, is the fact that our own ideas can differ wildly to those around us. When we celebrate differences, we are intentionally prioritising the human connection between us!

One way that this can be done with leaders is by talking about our personal experiences of different workplace issues, creating a consciously mindful environment.

Supporting activities here are the practice of being non-judgmental, the practice of remaining curious, and the practice of exercises that facilitate a moment of pause before we act.

A Note on Technical Skill vs. Workplace Culture

When it comes to leadership and management roles, many organisations mistakenly prioritise technical skills and tenure over the development of a strong workplace culture. This traditional approach often results in individuals being promoted based on their technical expertise, without considering their ability to effectively lead and empower others.

While technical skills are important, they should not be the sole criteria for leadership roles. In fact, studies have shown that managers with high emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills are more likely to be successful in their roles. This is because they possess the ability to understand and connect with their team members on a deeper level, fostering trust and collaboration.

By solely focusing on technical skills and tenure, organisations risk neglecting the development of a healthy workplace culture. This can have detrimental effects on employee engagement, morale, and overall organisational success. When individuals are promoted based solely on technical skills, it can create a culture of competition and individualism, where the collective health of the organisation is disregarded.

To truly create a thriving and empowered workforce, priority needs to be placed on the intentional development of workplace culture.

This can manifest organically when we have an empowered work-force, and by following the tips noted above, an empowered workforce is exactly what we all strive to see. This can be further supported by the provision of things like leadership development programs and workshops, and specialised support from experienced leadership coaching.

By placing priority on the intentional development of healthy workplace culture, businesses can empower their leaders and managers to co-create an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to do their best work.

If you’re ready to transform your organisation and create a culture of employee empowerment, then reach out today for a no-obligation 20 minute call.

Let us help you develop your leaders and build a workplace culture that drives both collective and individual success.

May you have a magical work day, every day!

Article by

Vee Haslam

I Help You Connect to the Heart of the Matter During Times of Change to Obtain Peak Performance.

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