“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.”– Charles de Montesquieu
Our traditional organizations have been organized hierarchically and thus it is understandable that often the leader is seen as “above” everyone else. I have been fortunate that, for most of my career, I have either been part of a self-managed work team or was in an organization where I could lead by developing a self-managed work team. In these teams, the leader serves as “a first among equals.”
Participating in teams where everyone feels equally responsible for the outcome is tremendously empowering. I have found that in these situations people: draw on each others strengths, are more collaborative, are able to tap into their creative capacities, and best of all, they have a lot of fun. When everyone on the team shares the power, they create cultures of high trust where they have the courage to be ambitious about their capabilities. Unanticipated and great things truly do result from an empowered team where everyone, including the leader, sees themselves as an equal.
What qualities does a leader need to embrace to support a team of equals? Here’s what is on my list: be a good listener, be empathic, be aware, be persuasive, have foresight, be a steward and actively build community. When these qualities are nurtured the leader will hold the authority but not the power.
Is it just as good for the leader as it is for the team when this kind of work environment is created? In my experience it is. The conventional wisdom is that if you give away the power that you will somehow be diminished. This is not the case. When you are the leader of an empowered group of people who are doing great things, people recognize you for great leadership.
We would love to hear your stories of when you were part of an empowered team!
p.s. I always am interested in what you think about these discussions. Please post your thoughts on the blog…your constructive criticism and support is appreciated!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Your Mojo Maven
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