Whether you serve in a church, an office, manufacturing plant, or any other organization, if you want highly productive people there is one major key factor, empowerment. Empowering people is not turning over the reins of the organization. However, a congregation or workforce that is properly empowered will be motivated to strive for the organization’s goals and will serve at a higher level.
In much of the United States of America, the practice of top-down or hierarchal leadership is the norm. This is a common practice because it is what is known and taught both in schools and in the workplace (and in churches). Ken Blanchard and his associates in Leading at a Higher Level state, “Empowerment means letting people bring their brains to work and allowing them to use their knowledge, experience, and motivation…”
While humorous, there is great truth in their statement. Business researcher Edward Lawler found that companies that give more freedom and responsibility in operational issues concerning their workplace showed a 10+ percent more productive workforce. When people are empowered to lead out in their work, they will excel and rise to meet the organization’s goals. In this culture, new leaders are being raised and trained, not only by the leaders but by their peers and co-laborers.
Creating a culture of empowerment is not as easy as it may sound. Empowerment is the practice of releasing the knowledge and experience of the people in all levels of an organization, yet it is not turning overall control. Borders must be set. Major decisions are still in the hands of the leadership. However, the rank-and-file employees or congregants can be part of operational decision-making.
While for the leaders, the toughest portions of moving to an empowering culture include letting go and not interceding, employees or congregants also find difficulties in such adjustments. Hierarchical leadership is so ingrained in our culture that employees (congregants) will enter this new empowering culture with timidity and hesitation. Making decisions is not part of the almost robotic nature of today’s organizational structure.
Any organization that so desires can move to an empowering culture. A caution is to move forward slowly. People are hesitant to change. Too much change too fast can cause damage in the production of the organization. When this happens, in addition to the change, damage restoration must also take place.
An empowering culture is more than entrusting the members of the organization with decision-making power. Empowering leadership builds in responsibility and accountability as well as a teaching/learning configuration. People become more of a team and want to share and teach others to be more effective and efficient. Productivity and reaching organizational objectives becomes an all-in practice.
Each person has his/her own life experiences. These experiences have left us with knowledge and insight. Our experiences, knowledge, and insight build motivation within us. What better way to unleash all this than empowering the people of your organization? What can you do to assist in turning your organization into an effective forward-moving organism complete with people motivated to fulfilling your organization’s objectives? For more information contact George Yates.