Why do you show up for work each day? What motivates you to complete your tasks?
Is it because you have to…because it’s your job…. because someone told you to?
“Don’t be told. Be empowered.”
Empowerment starts when you begin to acknowledge what caused you to be “tasked,” understanding how you are choosing to show up each day, and how you are choosing to do the tasks you do.
You have agreements with yourself that you are committed to.
Building an intentional culture means shifting from an industrial model of “employees” who are tasked with a job to humans who are choosing to show up and do their part to impact the growth of the organization as a whole.
Human performance is complicated and goes beyond skill and knowledge. You as a leader, manager, or HR leader can have the greatest impact on performance when you support individual growth and help your team members to become empowered.
Sometimes it just feels like you can’t live up to your team’s expectations, your company’s needs, or even your own goals, all at the same time.
Yet, it is up to leaders, Human Resources (HR), and other organizational development roles within companies to manage, maintain, and grow all of these key aspects.
Without personal development of yourself and the individuals on your team, you may be left with unsatisfied and unfulfilled team members who aren’t consistently bringing their best selves to the plate.
Without leadership development, you and your team might become stagnant, and unable to grow past a certain level of success.
If you’re not meeting company growth or economic goals, your organization will not survive in a competitive market.
You are allowed to commit to your company goals and support the growth and success of both.
Some CEOS are not leaders because leadership is a choice. To be a leader of yourself and your own life. Choose to inspire others to understand themselves as leaders of their own life
My family has a beloved robot vacuum. They learn how best to clean your home by mapping out your space and the only way they learn to do so is by bumping into walls.
But my kids kept stopping the vacuum, picking it up…trying to save it. They were heroing the vacuum. And I coached them through this situation and reminded them the vacuum needed space to learn.
Imagine the same situation with a real human. It’s even harder. You don’t have to see them fail or face hard consequences. But growth takes growing pains.
Leadership means having the courage to create space, which does take effort and a lot of vision. But then you have to get out of the way. It seems like a contradiction to put boundaries so others can come in, but once you create that space, you then have to get out of the way.
This push and pull is facilitation.
You’re trying to make it easy for people to grow.
But making it easy sometimes requires a prompt or a push. It’s not always about being nice. It’s about creating space.
Having the capacity to hold space for others to grow is a wildly beneficial skill set.
Empowerment and Capacity
Power is the ability to get something done or the capacity to do something. Capacity is the ability, the wholeness. Capacity is a word that literally means, how much can your container hold?
Empowerment means you also have the opportunity.
Someone might have the capacity but not the freedom, or someone might also have the freedom but not the capacity. Empowerment entails both. Some highly skilled people don’t get things done because they’re not operating at full power. Human performance is a lot more complicated than skill and knowledge.
You can impact the capacity of others. But at some point, they have to choose it. And when they are choosing, that is empowerment.
Everybody has the potential to choose the path of empowerment. It takes a commitment to inner work and courage.
The Power of Reciprocity
For better or worse, most organizational structures are hierarchical. But a hierarchy doesn’t have to be paternalistic. You could be treating each other like adults who are making choices and building agreements.
You don’t have to shift the entire structure of your business or organization, you can create a more conscious business by shifting behaviors to ones that are built on mutual respect and interdependence.
You can implement situational leadership.
Someone who is younger or less experienced might require more structure, so you give them structure. Someone who’s more mature and more capable might not need or want that structure. That’s going to be crushing them or closing them off, so you take away the structure.
This is facilitation. You are making it easier for your team to utilize their capacity and freedom to generate results.
HR often isn’t that nuanced. It’s sometimes it’s one-size-fits-all policy. And that doesn’t work for everyone. This creates a bell curve, where the middle gets what they need and the two extremes get nothing.
Reciprocity is a different way of thinking about two adults working together, especially in the context of HR. Reciprocity is about equals that are interdependent, not one with more authority taking care of the other one who has to be submissive.
Shifting The Perspective on HR
Many people rely on their Chief People Officer or their VP of HR as the one who’s the ‘guardian’ of human experience at work. And not just that, but also the lifeline to their benefits, the wellbeing of their families, the policies that govern the way that they work, the way that they will be evaluated, the way that they may or may not be promoted or exited. They’re also in charge of the selection of the people who are going to be teammates, not to mention, the conditions in which everyone works.
But that’s not the core of Human Resources. The key objective of conscious HR is to create sustainable high performance. That takes questioning what is necessary to create sustainable high performance.
One powerful way to create sustainable high performance is to empathize. When you understand who you work with you can help to create conditions that allow that to happen.
Great leaders are made through empowerment.
Great teams are run through reciprocity.
Great companies reach and exceed both organizational and team development goals.
In HR and organizational development roles, it is necessary to balance empowerment, reciprocity, and overarching company goals.
The investment that you are making in growth acts as fuel for the engine of the organization you have thoughtfully designed, cared for, and held.