Empowering change

Inspiring leadership is more concerned about empowering change than apportioning blame.

Allowing others space to fail and grace to try again is part of creating a safe and productive environment for growth. When honesty is punished, mistakes are hidden or blame shifting kicks in. Secure leaders admit that failure may be part of the path to success.  They empower team members to be adventurous and push the limits. This doesn’t mean a lack of preparation or deliberate negligence are acceptable. But it does mean that responsible risk taking and creative experimentation are encouraged.

“Playing it safe” may preserve the status quo but it rarely empowers change. Twenty odd years ago Tom Peters wrote that organisations need to learn to “fail fast”. Acknowledging quickly those things which haven’t worked can empower change. As the pace of change continues to accelerate  it is even more important to reflect and respond in a timely way.

But how do you achieve this goal in a way that still provides appropriate accountability and builds competent and responsible leaders?

  • Provide one off low consequence opportunities in which people can “have a go” without it creating a major disaster for them or your organisation.
  • Build in a feedback loop from the beginning. When feedback is seen as normal rather than critical or reactive it is possible for all team members to learn and grow. The greater the level of feedback people are willing to receive the more freedom you can offer them.
  • Create a reflective culture in which self-evaluation and peer evaluation are seen as part of everyone’s growth and development. Ongoing self-assessment is the foundation for responsible risk-taking. It also lowers the likelihood of self-justification and blame shifting.
  • Celebrate risk-taking not just success. Even if the initiative which was taken wasn’t successful it can be a place of growth and learning for the individual, the team and the organisation.
  • Develop an environment of grace and affirmation where people are encouraged and the best is believed of one another’s efforts.

How can you begin to implement these ideas with your team?

“Jesus came to put the world right again not … point an accusing finger.” John 3:16-18 MSG http://bible.com/97/jhn.3.16-18.msg

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