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Executive Corner – Empower Your Team as a People-Centric Leader

Michael Clegg | 11/01/2023

Fierce headstrong leadership is something of the past.  

The idea that results must come from that one person at the “top of the totem pole” is an outdated concept.  

The truth is, results never come from just one person—they come from the whole team (and they always have, whether they got credit for it or not). 

Leadership is undergoing a transformative shift, moving away from the traditional sole decision-making process and moving toward a more team-powered decision-making model. This means that leaders are loosening their grip and delegating authority (not just tasks) to the team.  

An important disclaimer to recognize is that leaders are still the final accountable person on decision making. Don’t get this confused with consensus. While it is important to empower your team, loosen your grip, and delegate authority, you need to make sure that they understand the final vision and don’t stray too far from the path that you see the organization taking.

In addition to delegating authority, it is important to possess more than just the typical leadership skills—the soft skills count, too.  

Soft skills are skills that we cannot measure. You can put metrics on project management, HR, and customer service, but you can’t put metrics on things like 

These soft skills are what make strong, healthy cultures turn into successful businesses. Leading with a people-centric intention, rather than a result-driven intention, will help build your team’s connection and will start to empower your team. 

However, the transition to this people-centric style is not without its challenges. Many executives find themselves struggling to define and master these soft skills. The term itself encompasses a wide range of abilities, leaving leaders confused about the specifics.  

Moreover, those ascending to leadership roles often lack a complete array of these skills, and even newly appointed CEOs may find themselves not fully equipped to deploy them effectively. This is just a reminder of the importance of leadership development and training, but that’s for another day. 

There are Three-Stages in this Leadership Development Journey: 

1.Recognizing the need for a change in leadership style is the first crucial step.  

This departure from the familiar and often successful directive approach requires a conscious effort. Executives must acknowledge that their behavior might impede the outcomes they care about. The catalyst for change could be a specific event, colleague feedback, or the realization that a different approach is needed.  A primary way of making this change is to put the needs of your employees first.  Find out what’s important to them.   

2.Leading Through Change (the journey) 

Learning about this new approach happens through two key practices:  

  • Outside-in learning, where leaders put themselves in situations with no direct authority, and  
  • Inside-out learning, where leaders leverage skills developed within their teams or personal lives. 

Consistently asking for feedback is another crucial aspect of this transformation. Executives need honest and constructive feedback in order to grow their leadership and people skills. The most important part of this step is to celebrate the wins, learn from the mistakes, and keep moving forward. 

3.The return (the final stage) marks the internalization of an empowering leadership style. 

Leaders, having navigated the trials and tribulations of the journey, see this style as a genuine reflection of their new selves. They become equipped with a broader repertoire, able to flex between directive and enabling approaches as the situation demands. 

Leaders in the return stage internalize an empowering leadership style, able to flex between directive and enabling approaches based on the needs of the situation. A desire to share and amplify learning becomes a marker of this stage, increasing the organization’s capacity for workforce development. 

Adapting Leadership for Success. 

Success as a leader in today’s context is not solely about past achievements in delivering results. It’s about collaborating and influencing, self-evaluation, and adjustment. A broad repertoire allows leaders to navigate the complexities of modern leadership, empowering teams to achieve success collectively. 

In conclusion, the evolving landscape of leadership demands a shift towards empowerment and collaboration. The journey might be long and challenging, but the rewards are immense. More than ever, leaders need to harness the potential within their teams, adopting a people-centric style that fosters engagement, innovation, and sustainable success. The future belongs to leaders who can adapt, empower, and lead their teams into a new era of collaborative excellence. 

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