January 29, 2019

Enable Others to Act and Achieve Greatness Together

One of the most effective things that leaders can do to liberate themselves and others at the workplace is to enable others to act to get things done.


Research by Kouzes and Posner shows that enablement increases the score of positive workplace attitude, a precursor to achieving extraordinary outcomes. To reap the most from enabling others to act, leaders need to build their people’s confidence and competence.


Take a moment to reflect: Think of a time when you felt powerful because of what someone said or did to you? What did that person say or do that caused the powerful feeling? How did it impact your productivity and performance? What was something someone said or did to you that made you feel powerless? How did it impact your productivity?


As a leader, you must be mindful of what you say and do, for it greatly impacts your employees. Seize the opportunities you get to make others feel powerful and you will be amazed at how your act of enablement makes the significant difference!


How you Enable Others to Act


The first step to empower your employees is to foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships.


Everyone of your employees is equipped with valuable knowledge and experience and is able to contribute with their individual strengths and talents. To achieve extraordinary things with your employees, work together as a team, making use of different kinds of strengths, talents, energies and potentials.


Effective collaboration among your employees and yourself can only take place if your relationships are built on trust. Listening to others’ thoughts, feelings and concerns and helping them grow are ways to build trust. Building trust in work relationships takes time however and requires one person to be willing to open up first. Be the one to initiate trust in the relationships with your employees.


At times, you will be more experienced and better equipped than your employees to solve a challenge at work. It may seem logical that you do the work yourself but that is often at the expense of employee learning opportunities.


Enabling your employees communicates our trust and confidence in them and that in turn further generates trust and confidence needed for getting things done well.



The second step to enabling your employees to act is strengthening them by increasing their self-determination and developing competence.


A leader who strengthens others empowers them to be in control. Let go of control, even if this means your employees might not do everything the way you imagined - maybe they’ll make mistakes.


Letting go of control can be scary - like when parents let go of their child’s hand for the first time, seeing them walk a few steps and then the child falls down.


Handing over control paves the way for your employees to learn, with increased self-determination that equips them with valuable self-confidence and capability soon enough.


In enabling others to act, exemplary leaders know to keep their people in the flow where their tasks/challenges assigned are matched by their skills. When their people's skills exceed the challenge, they get bored and when the challenge exceeds the skills they get nervous. To keep in the flow, leaders ensure they equip their people with the right skills set to meet the demands of the challenges.


Think about your employees, which level of challenge do they face and what is their skill level? Use the chart below to visualise where they are at.

Flow Chart.002What can you change or do to move your employees closer or into the state of flow?


6 Behaviours you can Adopt to Enable Others to Act


Enable your employees to act by frequently engaging in the following behaviours:


  1. Develop cooperative relationships among the people you work with.
  2. Actively listen to diverse points of views.
  3. Treat others with dignity and respect.
  4. Involve your employees in the decisions that directly impact their job performance.
  5. Give your employees a great deal of freedom and choice in deciding how to do their work.
  6. Ensure that your employees grow in their jobs by learning new skills and developing themselves.



What great things do you want to achieve with your employees? Reach your goals by collaborating with your team of employees, gain their trust, keep it upright and create frequent opportunities to strengthen your relationships and most importantly, give them the discretion to act.


Your team needs strong individuals to function well and get the job done. Strengthen your employees, by letting go of control, increasing their self-determination and help them build their competence. You will be left with a team of employees who feel confident and capable, being empowered by you. Together, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

The Leadership Challenge Asia