Empowered Team Leadership

In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he envisioned a “Government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and then said it “shall not perish from the Earth.” That statement is (in principle) as true today as it ever was. There is a timeless truth in those words that is at the very heart of sound leadership.

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In the course of history the leadership pendulum has been swinging from side to side, passing through every philosophical leadership approach that has ever been conceived, for as long as people were on the earth.

We’ve come a long way over the years, learning some valuable lessons along the way. Periodically that leadership pendulum returns to models that utilize the best of team efforts, integrating the valuable lessons of the past with each subsequent pass.

I believe that the models which capitalize on the synergistic dynamics of team leadership is best for several reasons; provided the organization can have some type of solid personal/team development process in place.

People Will Always be an Organization’s Greatest Asset.

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John C. Maxwell said; “By far the greatest obstacle to success that I see in others is a poor understanding of people. A while back the Wall Street Journal published an article on the reasons that executives fail. At the top of the list was a person’s inability to effectively relate to others. …”

When I was managing a retail business in New York in the 1980’s; I spent much of my time building my team relationally. I focused on my relationship with the staff, and helping them in their relationships with each other.

I made an effort to make each one feel important, and to recognize they each had something to contribute. Together we created a family atmosphere where each person had a responsibility to carry out, and a voice to be heard.

We enjoyed working together and took great pride in a job well done. Our team meetings were often filled with laughter, and focused goal oriented discussions. We treated each other with respect, and really cared for each other’s overall health and well being outside the work place.

That family atmosphere we created had a positive influence on our customers as well. Together we treated each costumer as if they were a member of our family. I really didn’t know any other way to manage a business or lead a staff.

Consider these words by Rodger Dean Duncan; “In today’s environment, the old notion of “just be grateful you have a job” is a fast ticket to low performance and high turnover. Successful organizations lead the whole person, acknowledging that employees have heads and hearts.” (1)

A Team Lesson from the Bees

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Dr. Michael O’Malley, author of The Wisdom of Bees, stated that “The bees highly decentralized form of government allows the workers who are closest to the information to act upon it immediately and make the most informed decisions.”

If bees by nature are empowered to act for the greater good of the colony, how much more a well trained organized team, for the good of the company? Consider the benefits of an intentionally empowered team:

  1. Empowered teams are more responsible, because they’re authorized to take action.
  2. Empowered teams are generally proactive, and take pride in the work they do.
  3. Empowered teams are more engaged in facilitating the success of the organization.
  4. Empowered teams take initiative because they’ve taken ownership of the vision.
  5. Empowered teams guarantee a positive customer experience.

 

(1) (Source: “Nine ways to keep your company’s most valuable Asset – Its Employees. Forbes Leadership Forum – August 20th 2013).

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