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9 ways to empower employees to be leaders

4 min read


It can be difficult to manage a team of people. Often, day-to-day tasks become priority, and encouraging innovation and leadership can take a backseat.

So how can you empower your employees to become leaders in the office? Check out what these experts had to say:

Management needs to listen and react to employee feedback

When it comes to leadership skills, employees need to know they’re being heard and respected. Management should work hard to solicit employee feedback and work on the common problems and issues which arise. Employees who see their issues addressed will feel empowered to continue making suggestions. Soon these employees will become leaders in the workplace because they know the organization values their contributions. — Josh Tolan, Spark Hire

A proactive company culture drives employee initiative

CEOs and top executives should develop a proactive company culture to ensure employees stay motivated to take initiative. They can establish and drive this type of culture through leading by example. Employees should want to be leaders in their workplace because they truly believe in the visions and goals presented by their company culture and top management. — Nathan Parcells, InternMatch

Empower them to think differently

While it’s important to set clear goals and responsibilities, the key to having a successful business and engaged workforce is to empower all your employees to make decisions on their own. Make sure employees are comfortable and confident asking questions, bringing forward new ideas and even taking a different approach that may fail. Out of that failure will come knowledge and longer-term success. — Lynn Dixon,

Clarity and trust

If management truly wants to empower employees to be leaders, they have to deploy two (often scarce) resources: clarity and trust. Clarity ensures that the employee’s well-intentioned efforts are aligned with management’s goals. Trust is the fuel on which new leaders run. Clarity without trust produces inaction. Trust without clarity produces wasted effort. — Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology

Empowering employees through strong workplace policies

The best practice for employee empowerment is to establish (and enforce) strong workplace policies. Strong workplace policies eliminate the need for micromanagement, fostering employee empowerment organically. Workplace policies give employees the parameters they need to be creative, productive, successful and happy at work. — Clara Lippert Glenn, president/CEO, The Oxford Princeton Programme

Create a more inclusive environment

If you really want to empower employees to be leaders in the workplace, create a more inclusive environment for them. Employees who are encouraged to give their opinions — and believe their insights are valued by top management — will feel more comfortable taking charge. An inclusive workplace acts not only as a resource for management to help grow business, but also to promote employee growth as well. Everyone wins! — Shirley Engelmeier, CEO, InclusionINC

Give them the authority to fail

If an employee is not worried  that failure will lead to firing, they will take risks. Risk takers, by  definition, gain followers — when successful — and having followers is the definition of a leader. — Bruce Hurwitz, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing

Create opportunities for employees to shine

While every company is pleased to have natural-born leaders, others may need a bit more prodding. Empower those employees by providing them with a bit more freedom to pursue to their passions. Then give them the opportunity to demonstrate their work to other employees. — Jason Pinto, director of marketing, CBG Benefits

Master the game of people-centric balance

To inspire leaders in the workplace, top management needs to create an environment where success is a journey, not a destination, and that peoples’ best interests are considered. Included within that journey are challenges, ideas, and decisions that employees will inevitably face. Employees are most likely to emerge as leaders in these situations if top management leads with a sense of balance — giving challenges but offering support; accepting failure but holding individuals accountable for success; and trusting their people while expecting respect in return. — Russell Schramm, vice president of talent acquisition for the Americas, Philips

What do you think? What other ways can employers inspire leadership?

Heather R. Huhman is the founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. You can connect with Huhman and Come Recommended on Twitter and Facebook.