Leadership Excellence Trust

shutterstock_168606473Successful leaders know how to empower the members of their team.  They know that they will not succeed unless they do.



Understanding and Accountability

“If you have a common understanding of the mission and vision, and have conducted a deliberate exercise to create strategies to execute the mission and create the vision, then you have a basis for communication and a basis for accountability and measurement.” – Hank Holland

To get to the heart of the matter, I went back to the leader who had done the best job of empowering his team and accomplishing the goals he set out to achieve. When I asked Hank about empowerment and ownership, Hank first honed in on the importance of clear communication. He held a number of jobs where the people he hired came to him with a plethora of backgrounds and experiences. Hank always took time to ensure his expectations were understood. He realized the negative impact on performance that would result when people were unclear on what was expected of them. Hank was a strong proponent of empowerment. He taught me how important it was for senior executives to focus on strategic issues and delegate as much as possible to the people on their team. He was always encouraging me to stay out of the weeds.
Accountability Is Part of Empowerment

Hank also told me that he thought the word accountability needed to be added alongside empowerment and ownership, and that to some extent, the three words were synonyms. He has always been a strong proponent of processes. As he talked me through his philosophy, he said it started with a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and vision. He was quick to point out that he was not talking about a vision in the grandiose sense – but more like a target. He said, “Where do we want to be in three years, and what will that look like?” He then walked me through a process, which took the mission and vision down to quarterly goals that could be measured. “After that, it is all about execution.”
The Characteristics of Empowerment

Before Hank went any further, he reflected upon the times in his career when he was empowered or empowered others. He said:
“I asked myself in those situations what characteristics were always in play. To me, there was always an element of trust; there was always an element of open communication and mutual respect, which would go along with trust.”
He added that when it came to processes he had always been a big believer in the mission, vision, strategy, objectives, goals, and milestones way of doing things.
To facilitate open communication, which is required to monitor the achievement of the goals and objectives, both the leader and the subordinate need to be in total agreement on what the goals are. Once they both buy in to the goals and how they will be measured, they have a basis for the communication that needs to take place. Having worked under Hank’s “system,” I was very appreciative of the kind of dialogue about achieving goals that occurred on a regular basis. These discussions were not without some stressful moments, particularly when something unexpected came up, but in no way did the discussions come across as micro-managing. Having regular sessions to review achievements against a plan sent a message that the goals were important and hitting the milestones was a necessary part of reaching the goals. These sessions also enabled mid-course corrections, which were frequently needed to get activities back on track.
The Process Conversation

Hank brought the discussion back to educating and enabling by reminding me of the goal that he and I had worked on at Landmark. He recalled asking me to tell him what we needed to achieve the goals we were committing to. He expected that a big part of it would be training. Not surprisingly, he was right. Given that we would be growing the organization from sixty to three hundred and sixty consultants, we would need a lot of training to deliver quality solutions to our clients. “An executive needs to understand what his team needs.”


The Five Most Powerful Ways to Unleash Potential

Leadership Excellence Trust



One of the most frustrating challenges facing leaders in any industry is the ability to unleash the potential in the people they lead. Finding ways to get their teams to see their own potential and strive to reach that potential eludes many leadership teams. In researching approaches to motivation for my book, A Garage Full of Ferraris, I uncovered the following five approaches used to successfully unlock potential.
1) Educate: People are frequently hesitant to put forward their maximum effort when they are uncertain as to which course to take. A fear of taking a wrong step results in indecision and inaction. Earl Nightingale, one of the greatest inspirational speakers of all time, once characterized knowledge as one of the greatest motivators. The more educated your team is, the more confident they will be in taking action and the sooner they will reach their full potential.
2) Empower: Most people will refuse to take action if they do not believe they have the authority to do so. Many managers are either poor at communicating their expectations or are hesitant to empower their employees for fear they will relinquish too much of their own power. They may not have adequate confidence in their team’s ability to perform tasks the way they believe they should be executed. As a result of the dilemma facing these managers, they send mixed signals to their teams. When managers fail to empower their teams, they get less than stellar results. Managers who are anxious to achieve significant results will show confidence in the people who work for them and clearly encourage them to take action. When people believe they are empowered and accountable, and they have been adequately trained, they will frequently achieve results that far exceed expectations.
3) Listen: When managers do not listen to their teams, they send a message that they do not value their input. When people feel that their input and ideas are not being listened to or valued, they will not be motivated to move forward. Managers who take the time to listen to the members of their team show that they respect the ideas that are being put forward, and by so doing they instill confidence in their team. By listening they become aware of obstacles that may be keeping their employees from taking action. With this knowledge, the manager is able to remove the obstacles, thus enabling the team to move forward more rapidly.
4) Trust: Trust is one of the most powerful motivators. When people feel trusted, they will respect themselves and feel more confident. With this confidence comes the inspiration to take the action and risks needed to achieve extraordinary results. When people feel that their managers do not trust them, they lose confidence and are less inclined to take action or risks. Lack of trust can also produce debilitating fear. A side benefit of showing trust in people is the reciprocal affect – people who have the trust of others tend to feel the same way back. When people trust their managers they are less likely to question their mandates and therefore less likely to hesitate in taking the actions needed to reach their goals.
5) Believe: Communicating that you believe in your team’s ability to accomplish a goal is key to instilling confidence in them. When people receive a clear message that their managers believe in them, they will begin to have confidence in themselves. Their belief in their own ability to succeed will inspire them to take the actions necessary to reach their potential. In most cases, this belief will help your team reach far greater results than they would have believed possible without that expression of confidence.