Six Ways to Power-Up Your Employees

Would your employees say their relationship with you makes them feel more powerful or powerless?

I’ve been pondering this question since I read a recent blog article from Liz Kislik on the topic of “speaking truth to power” where she made a statement that hit me straight between the eyes: “Leading — real leading — requires helping others find their power instead of squelching it.”

So how can I…how can WE as leaders…help others find their power? I think part of the answer lies in helping our employees find autonomy and control in their work and self-confidence in their abilities.

Here’s six practical ways we can help our people move from feeling powerless to powerful:

1. Give them public opportunities to shine — It’s easy to get trapped in the daily grind and just let people toil in the shadows. Leaders should look for opportunities to sing the praises of their team members to other leaders in the organization or let them showcase their talents in cross-functional teams, projects, or public presentations.

2. Let them make decisions — Don’t micromanage your employees. There’s no quicker way to make people feel powerless than to rob them of their ability to make decisions over their own work. Constant micromanaging develops a mindset of learned helplessness among your employees and inhibits their ability to learn and grow in their role.

3. Ask for and incorporate their feedback into your decisions — Simply asking others for their thoughts and opinions signals that you respect what they bring to the table and you recognize that you don’t have all the answers. Contributing to decisions and the direction of the team allows your employees to feel they have power to influence their own work environment.

4. Be a straight shooter — Being evasive or vague in your communications can create the perception that you’re trying to hoard  information, power, and control which leave people feeling powerless about their situation. Giving and receiving honest feedback builds trust and confidence with others because they always know where they stand with you and that gives them a measure of power and control over their current reality.

5. Give them leadership opportunities within the team — Whether it’s formal or informal, giving employees a chance to experience leadership positions is a positive step toward empowerment. I’ve seen a number of instances where someone who was thought to not be of “leadership caliber” was given the opportunity to lead and turned out to be a fantastic leader. Sometimes people just need a chance.

6. Let them fail — It’s easy to want to protect our people from failing. Whether we want to spare them from the pain or we’re reluctant to let go of control in the first place, we often don’t let our people get in situations where they have the potential to fail. Part of empowering our team members is letting go of control and allowing them to experience success and failure. Failure is a great teacher as long as we’re willing to learn, and that’s a key role of a leader – helping your people learn from their mistakes.

It’s our job as leaders to find ways to “power-up” our employees so they gain that sense of control and ownership of their work which leads to higher levels of commitment and engagement. What are some ways you’ve helped your people develop and embrace their personal power? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

9 Comments on “Six Ways to Power-Up Your Employees

  1. Randy,
    You are singing my tune. I’ve been deep in thought on #2. We’re seeing in our work with clients the importance of inviting employees to be part of shaping the future of the organization. This of course is nothing new to management and leadership thinking. What is new is the degree in which employees are asked to get their fingerprints on the work that charts the company’s journey. Such an invitation makes room for the rest of the items in your great list.

    Good stuff, Randy. Have a great week.

    • Hi Shawn. It’s encouraging to see that trend with your clients. Given the incredible pace of change in the world today, leaders need to empower people at all levels of the organization if they hope to be successful.

      Thanks for your comments and insights. Be well!

      Sent via mobile device. Please excuse any typos.

  2. One of my mentors David Ogilvy, used to say…..” If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

    His lesson always drives home for me when consulting with organizations and especially when we are wanting to power up employees and leadership.

    Thanks for your great post and wonderful list.

    Lolly Daskal
    Lead From Within

    • Hi Lolly! That is a great saying that all leaders should strive to fulfill. Thanks for sharing that nugget of wisdom.

      Have a great week!


  3. Hi Lolly,

    Good Post, I feel that there must be more than six ways to empower people. Organization that have felt the importance of empowering people have suceeded/on the path to success.


    • Hello Syed. Thank you for your comments. Coming up with more ways to empower employees is the challenge we face as leaders and it’s a never-ending quest, isn’t it?

      Best regards,


  4. Great advice. I particularly like #6. Instead of always protecting them OR getting mad when they fail, we should let them fail – it’s all a part of learning

    • I agree Diane. Protecting others from failing seems to be a natural, protective reflex, but that’s where real learning occurs. Have a great week!


  5. Well, the steps are realy signing part. It will lead to push the potency up of employees. After that they will bocome invaluable assest of the organisation. and one thing more self discipline would be shown by each at every moment.

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