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Leader, let me share one simple, but huge thing you can do to better empower people on your team.

In full disclosure, I’m the worst at this, but it’s something I continually strive to do better.

So, you want to fully empower your team?

Here’s what you do:

Release them from responsibility.

Whenever you can, let them know they aren’t being held responsible.

Often as leaders we handle a lot of information. Sometimes we push a lot of that to our team. In other words, we dispense a lot of new ideas. If we are growing and learning personally, the team is often where we process our thoughts as we have them.

And here is where this principle comes into play:

If it’s not their responsibility – let them know it’s not.

Simply release them from any responsibility other than hearing you out – at this point in your processing. If you don’t expect them to do anything yet, let them know they’re off the hook.

Again, it sounds simple but it’s huge.

You see, the team is always wondering if what you are thinking is where the organization is going next. Is your processing a mandate to do something? They are waiting for leadership on the “new idea”.

Specifically, what is the leader thinking here – as it relates to me?

  • What do you want me to do with that new idea?
  • How do you want me to help?
  • What’s my role going to be in this?
  • Are you going to hold me accountable for this?
  • Do you expect something from me here?
  • Am I supposed to be taking notes?
  • Is this something I should be concerned about right now?

As leaders, we often process and present a lot of ideas, but sometimes we are just “thinking.” Sometimes we aren’t assigning anything – we are simply exploring.

The more we can release the people trying to follow us the more they can focus on things for which they are being held accountable. And the more willing they will be to process new ideas with us.

Just tell them what you expect  or don’t expect. Say the words, “You are not responsible for this.” “I don’t expect anything from you on this.” “This is just for information.” “I’m simply thinking out loud right now.” And mean it.

Release them from responsibility.

Even better – create a healthy enough environment so people feel freedom to ask or challenge you when they don’t understand if they are being held responsible.

Sounds simple. Yet, it’s huge.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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