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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Empowerment Changes the Mindset of the Organization

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The factors constituting organizational empowerment create a change in the mindset of the organization. Most traditional companies have an established centralized bureaucracy with a strong management rather than leadership mindset. These are different approaches to how an organization is run and ultimately evolves in the face of continual change. When leaders understand the factors that increase empowerment, they are capable of leading their organization’s evolution through a series of incremental changes.

Leaders at all levels of an organization have the personal ability to shape the culture, climate and character of their units through their personal vision, desire to produce improved results and the dynamics they create to change and motivate their employees.

Through a leader’s personal example and proactive approach to their employees, other leaders are created. As employees are empowered within the organization, their leadership characteristics emerge and are developed. Rather than limit these capabilities, leaders cultivate these individuals until their potential is realized. This is a tremendous responsibility for the individual leader to assume, but a necessity if the organization is to grow and evolve in the face of continuous change.

Leaders at all levels assume the responsibilities of influencing the attitudes, activities and actions of their employees. This is opposed to the role of managers or supervisors who see their role as simply directing the employees under them. In the capacity of an influencer, the leader applies the principles of effective leadership and focuses his or her organizational unit through the use and application of the following factors:

Outcomes

Leaders shape the outputs and outcomes of their organization. Their overall goal is meeting the needs and demands of the customer, whether internal or external. This places an emphasis on results over processes. In other words, the final desired result is concentrated on, and not necessarily the process that produces the result. Within the empowered organization, the process can be radically changed by the involvement of frontline employees to produce a higher-quality outcome in a more efficient and profitable manner.

Groups

Rather than focus on an individual job or task, leaders focus their attention on the collective results and outcomes produced through involvement of the workgroups and teams within their organization. The use and application of effective leadership and motivational methods allows leaders to build and foster strong organizational cohesiveness. This results in increased empowerment, overall accountability and effectiveness.

Ideas

Leaders encourage and stimulate creative thinking within their organizational units to develop new ideas and concepts to improve team outcomes. Rather than enforce old and possibly ineffective ideas, leaders attempt to harness the “native knowledge” of individual employees to increase the productivity of the organizational unit. Rather than looking for things to go wrong and then fixing them, leaders are looking for the things that are working and seeking ways to expand their use through increased testing and experimentation.

Competition

Rather than fear and ignore it, leaders thrive on tough competition. They use the competitive environment they must function within to drive their organization forward by eliminating waste and inefficiency and by focusing the organization on producing a higher-quality product or outcome that can compete more effectively in the marketplace.

Involvement

Leaders are always seeking new ways to motivate and stimulate the involvement of all employees in producing a better product or outcome. The empowered organization increases the employee’s ownership and accountability by flattening the decision making process. This allows frontline employees, closest to and best qualified to positively impact the final outcome or product, to make key decisions.

Empowerment

Rather than tightly control the decision making process, leaders are continually looking for new ways to empower individual employees to make the critical decisions that reduce inefficiency and frustration at key points positively impacting the organization’s output or product.

Since changes are produced by countless decisions made everyday, rather than slow and complicate the process, empowerment streamlines and makes the entire organization more effective and efficient. Employees do not have to wait for countless and wasteful meetings to make decisions, but can make them “on the fly” to quickly resolve a problem. This allows the organization to move quickly forward, free of needless barriers.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Leaders are proactive rather than reactive. Instead of waiting, they actively seek ways to make things happen. In this regard leaders are dynamic and animated in their interaction with both their superiors and employees rather than inanimate and reactive. The energy and dynamics of their personal behavior creates a sense of excitement and is highly contagious to other members of the organization. This produces positive attitudes and motivation throughout the organization.

Employees as Resources

Leaders hold their employees in high regard and respect their personal abilities, insight and intelligence. In this capacity, they maintain a perspective that treats employees as human resources with something positive to contribute to the organization—not a worker with a job. In this capacity and through the use of such leadership and empowerment principles, the “us vs. them” attitude prevalent in many organizations is eliminated or greatly diminished.

Innovation

When all of the factors constituting an empowered organization are considered, leaders are focusing the members of their organization on improving personal initiative and innovation. This is opposed to simply improving individual employee compliance and conformance to organizational goals and objectives.

When freed of constraints and empowered to actively contribute to produce positive outcomes and results, employees are capable and motivated to meet the challenges presented to them. This advances and improves the overall organization.

Culture

Leaders use all the factors that ultimately constitute an empowered organization to shape its character, culture and climate. Most will discover that the climate they create and shape will assume the characteristics they personally display.

Excerpt: Organizational Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Change is Not a Destination But a Process

Creating a Culture of Innovation

Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Empowerment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Team Members Support One Another, Collaborate Freely and Communicate Openly

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The formation of teams creates substantial and sustainable long-term benefits for the organization, including the fostering of a self-managing environment where employees are fully empowered to make decisions that increase their efficiency, effectiveness and overall productivity.

Many organizations will transition from groups and committees to formally structured teams with specific goals and objectives that are chartered by the organization to fulfill a specific purpose. Within the company, the transition can be either smooth from one environment to another, or sudden, resulting in traumatic organizational changes.

It is important for leaders to understand that the nature of a team is based upon a discipline that the team structure imposes on itself. Teams create a fully empowered environment that allows organizations to become more efficient, effective and productive. This shift provides companies with the flexibility to become more adaptive to the forces of change, and as a result the world has witnessed an overall increase in global competition in virtually every industry.

Many organizations purport to have so-called team environments, but some standard working groups are mislabeled or misidentified as teams. Some of the most common groups to be mislabeled as teams are discussed below.

Committees

Organizational committees usually serve as an investigative or advisory body reporting to an appointed person or to the one who organized them.

Task Forces

Organizational task forces are temporary problem solving groups formed to deal with issues that overlap lines of authority. A task force may, for its duration, be full or part time.

Quality Circles

Quality circles consist of groups of employees and supervisors who are seeking ways to increase the effectiveness of workgroups through higher productivity and improved quality.

Project Groups

Project groups are organized to work specifically on a project such as a new product or a new facility. Like the task force, the project group may have a temporary existence. When its mission is accomplished, the group disbands.

Teams have many traits that distinguish them from groups. They are normally chartered to fulfill a specific organizational purpose. The most distinguishing characteristic of a team is that its members have as their highest priority the accomplishment of team goals.

The most important business at hand is the success of the team in reaching the collective goals set by its members. Members support one another, collaborate freely and communicate openly and clearly with one another. Effective teams are able to accomplish their organizational purpose within specific areas, as outlined below.

Information

Within the effective team environment, information flows freely—horizontally, vertically and to the entire team. There is a full sharing of information among team members, and individuals are open and honest about what they are communicating with each other.

Personal Relationships

As the team environment develops and is fostered, nurtured and sustained, relationships on the team become more trusting, respectful, collaborative and supportive. Individuals learn to work together and respect one another’s input, perspective and opinions.

Conflict

Within a healthy team environment, conflict is regarded as natural and helpful when it centers around examining issues and key points that need to be addressed and is confined to issues, not personalities. In most group environments conflict is often rooted in personal traits, motives and agendas that tend to be destructive to everyone involved. Once the team environment is fostered and developed, most team members will use conflict constructively to address issues, solve problems and make decisions by examining all aspects of each element.

Team Atmosphere

As team members learn to work with each other in an effective team environment, they become more trusting, respectful, collaborative and supportive, creating an open and nonthreatening environment in which to operate.

Decisions

Decisions in the team environment are arrived at by consensus rather than by a majority vote or by forcing members to agree with the decision of the group. By arriving at a consensus, each team member is fully committed to a full and efficient use of the resources available to the team. In this manner each team member is fully responsible for the decision of the entire team.

Creativity

Within many organizational groups, the emphasis is on activity and end input, rather than output and solutions. Within an effective team environment, the team members create more solution-oriented outcomes. The focus of the group is on results, not activity.

Power Base

Within many organizational groups, it is not uncommon to see power hoarded by individuals or small groups based on internal politics and personal agendas. However, in an effective team environment the power of the team is shared by all of its members. It is based on the competence of each member and the contributions that each makes to the team.

Motivation

Within many organizational environments individual achievement is valued without concern for the group. Individuals and groups place their personal interests over and above the interests of the organization. However, on a team, the individual members set the environment for a commitment to group goals. Rather than being coerced and pressured to go along with imposed goals, members find that there is more chance for achievement through the advancement of the team.

Reward

Within many organizational groups the basis for rewards is often unclear. They can be based on subjective and often arbitrary appraisals of performance, favoring specific individuals over others. However, within an effective team environment the rewards are based on the contribution that the group provides to the organization. The team, rather than individuals within the team, is rewarded for its performance.

Excerpt: A Team’s Purpose, Function & Use: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

There are Only Three Reasons to Form a Team

Seven Characteristics of Strong Teams

Seven Negative Roles & Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Five Critical Factors of Team Success

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Empowered Organizations Develop Employee Commitment

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The purpose of empowerment in an organization is to decentralize management and control throughout the organization. The overall effect is to build customer loyalty by creating internal employee ownership of productivity, quality, and the principles for which an organization stands.

The sole purpose of creating an empowered organization is to develop employee commitment. The role of the leader in this capacity is to ensure that the same common mission and set of values is communicated throughout their organization and are consistent with those of other individual leaders in the organization. This means that leaders must match words with actions to instill the right character and culture within their organization.

As control is decentralized within their organization, both leaders and employees assume a greater role of responsibility in decisions affecting effectiveness, productivity and profitability.

Leaders must make sure that decisions impacting efficiency, cost-cutting, and overall value are made with as much participation of the frontline employees they impact as possible.

The key to organizational empowerment is to make employees part of management rather than individual cogs in a wheel, holding them accountable for their individual actions. This creates positive organizational change with distinct advantages:

  • Employees become more cost conscious.
  • Employees become involved in the cost-value trade-off decisions that must be made if an organization is to remain competitive.
  • Employees work toward continuous improvement in value efficiency as well as quality effectiveness.
  • Employees experience an overall reduction in frustrations as well as an elimination of continued inefficiencies within the organization.

Empowered employees who are included and involved in the management of an organization respond by acting like owners themselves. This is something that managers and leaders cannot achieve with slogans or manipulative methods to force employee compliance and conformance. These faulty methods run counter to motivational principles.

As employees become empowered and assume personal ownership, attitudes and behaviors begin to shift in accordance with their personal beliefs. They become more conscious of workplace factors impacting the effectiveness, productivity and profitability of their organizational unit.

This is the desired objective of the organization: frontline employees focused on making essential decisions that improve the quality of the product or service and the value it provides the customer.

Organizations must become increasingly cost-conscious in an increasingly global and competitive environment. Empowered organizations flatten decision making and bring it directly to the “trenches” of the organization. Employees in the front lines are able to make more effective decisions because they are properly focused.

This insures that cost cuts and efficiency improvements are made in the right places without injuring the quality and value of their product or service. To make this truly effective, leaders must ensure a system is in place that makes cost consciousness every employee’s concern.

The less involvement of employees at the front lines of an organization, the more unseen and hidden costs are overlooked. The farther away these decisions are made from their point of impact, the harder it is to arrive at the right decisions without harming both the quality and value of a product or service.

Within an empowered organization, the more frontline people—who most directly benefit from a reduction of costs and enhanced value—actively involved in decisions, the more effective decisions will be. This is important to note since too many organizations place an emphasis on cost controls rather than on the production of value. While this may look good on paper, these decisions undermine the overall quality of products/services and diminish customer satisfaction levels.

Within the empowered organization, employees will often extend their job descriptions on their own and work diligently to eliminate the inefficiencies that create cost-value problems in their workplace. This is often the more widespread kind of commitment organizations will experience when they empower their employees and give them the authority to manage their work and make decisions on their own.

This only occurs because employees are empowered to question existing methods and concepts and are encouraged to experiment with new ideas and concepts for the sole purpose of increasing efficiency. This is highly effective in reducing frustrations and cutting costs where they really matter, rather than in random and often painful ways that compromise the quality of the product or service being produced.

Related:

Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Empowerment is a Structured Discipline

Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace

Four Major Hindrances to Empowerment

Excerpt: Organizational Empowerment (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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