Is Your Input Needed For Others To Make The Right Decision? - Learn How to Empower Others


To achieve better results, you need A-players on your team, and your job as a leader is to help your people develop into A-players. People grow when they are empowered to do so—when they own their decisions, feel personally responsible for outcomes, and directly experience the consequences of their actions. But if you don’t empower others to make decisions, then you run the risk of creating a team of helpless individuals who simply do what you tell them but don’t have the confidence or ability to think and act independently—plus you will become the decision-making bottleneck of your team.

Empowering others means giving them decision-making authority and providing support without removing responsibility. In our extensive research and testing of nearly 800 executives for my bestselling book THE LEADER HABIT, my team and I discovered the micro-behaviors that effective leaders do when they empower others. They:

  1. Allocate an appropriate level of decision-making authority such that others don’t feel overwhelmed by responsibility at one extreme or micromanaged at the other.

  2. Provide support without removing responsibility—let others own the issues they are responsible for, and provide support by acting as a consultant to them.

  3. Set check-in points and corresponding milestones to monitor progress.

  4. Coach others through barriers and roadblocks to help them overcome challenges.

Once you understand that these behaviors are the key to empowering others, you will need to internalize them for yourself, turning them into habits. Based on our finding that it takes 66 days to turn a behavior into a habit, we have created four simple exercises that will help you improve your ability to empower others. They are:

Exercise #1: Empower others by sharing decision-making authority. 

When you delegate, you only assign tasks or projects to others, but when you give people the decision-making power that goes along with those tasks and projects, you empower them. Use this exercise to get in the habit of sharing decision-making authority: After assigning a project or task to a team member, start a brief conversation on decision-making authority by saying, “What decisions related to this assignment are you comfortable making?” For example, you could clarify that the person is comfortable making decisions about travel purchases under $2,000 in value. 

Exercise #2: Provide support without removing responsibility.

To truly empower others, you must allow them to come up with their own solutions to the issues they are responsible for. However, this doesn’t mean you should have a “sink or swim” mentality. Instead, use this exercise to practice providing support to others without removing responsibility: After someone expresses a concern or frustration, acknowledge it and ask how you can help by saying, “I understand that you feel concerned about … How can I help?”

Exercise #3: Agree on the next check-in point.

Effective leaders monitor progress without micromanaging. You accomplish this by giving people the freedom to run with their projects as they see fit while establishing regular check-in points and milestones to ensure that the projects are on the right track. Practice the following exercise to make this a habit: After discussing the details of someone’s assignment, agree on the next check-in point by asking, “When should we check in on your progress and what deliverables should we expect to review at that point?” For example, you could agree to check in after two weeks and review the first draft of the presentation slides.

Exercise #4: Coach through roadblocks. 

Coaching people through roadblocks doesn’t mean giving advice or solving their problems for them; it means helping them to find their own solutions to the challenges they face. Use this exercise to practice asking questions instead of telling people how to solve their problems: After someone comes to you with a problem or issue, ask questions instead of offering solutions and advice by saying, “What makes this a problem and what have you already tried?”

At work, empowering others will help you to boost innovation on your team, increase employee retention and engagement, and build a high-performance culture. Effective leaders improve products, services, and operations by creating space for creativity, which means giving people room to experiment with ideas and appropriate freedom to make decisions for themselves. When employees are empowered, they feel a positive connection with their team and the organization as a whole, and they achieve superior results.

Ready to take the next step? Click the image below to download your complimentary 66-day skill worksheet.