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How Are You Empowering Others as Leaders or Employees?

Updated February 07, 2019

Tracey Erickson

SDSU Extension Dairy Field Specialist

Leadership Insights

Recently, I attended the Commodity Classic in Anaheim, CA and had the pleasure of listening to Keni Thomas, a Staff Sergeant with the Army 3rd Ranger Battalion who was deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia. Keni and his fellow rangers distinguished themselves in an eighteen-hour firefight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie Blackhawk Down. His was a message of how they as a team fought to bring each other home and what he learned in this voyage was very inspirational. I would like to share a few of the quotes that are most memorable from his presentation that I think we can all benefit from.

  • Part of the Ranger Moto he shared, lead the way…lead by example, set examples for others to follow.
  • You are no better than the weakest person on your team and you must build your weakest team member up to the level you want to be at.
  • When the stuff hits the fan, who do you want to be in that moment? Instead of saying “somebody should do something about that”, “be the somebody, take action”. It won’t be easy or fair but own it and take care of one another.
  • If your weakest link believes in themselves they will succeed.
  • Leadership is a choice, how are you enabling it? Use your gifts and personal skill sets to step up on a daily basis.
  • Give people the 5 W’s if you want them to succeed: Tell them What, Who, Why, Where and How.
  • When stressing keep the bigger picture in mind.
  • Lastly, a house divided will not stand.

My reason for referring to Mr. Thomas’s speech is that I wanted to hone in on a couple of his points, enablement of leadership and communication. Too often, we fail to communicate and adequately train others when we attempt to empower people. What often results is frustration of both parties part, along with a potential malfunction within either a business or an organization.

Establishing Expectations

One step to resolve this is to start a log of either daily or monthly activities for the position, as well as some detail of how to perform the task and who to contact if there are questions. As one develops a log of the expected duties you will be able to pass this information unto the person, and help insure performance as expected. This information can be utilized in many different ways. First it allows for development of a job description for a position or a leadership role. Secondly, it can serve as a template for a training plan for employees or a checklist of expected responsibilities of a leadership position. Third, it can also serve as a guide in the development of Standard Operating Procedures for various tasks. Lastly, it will also assist in the development of evaluation standards for a position.

Providing Effective Training

Once you have developed the template of responsibilities and decided how you will best utilize the information it is critical to take the time to pass the information unto the person. Training people can be broken down into five simple steps:

  1. Show: Show them what is expected and how to perform the desired task.
  2. Practice: Allow the person to practice what you have just taught them.
  3. Observe: Observe them performing the job, taking note of what they are doing correctly and areas that may need improvement.
  4. Praise: Provide positive feedback when the desired performance is achieved.
  5. Retrain: Retrain if the desired performance is not achieved or if a person slips back into “old habits” and is not following protocols (modified from Blanchard, 1994).

You will be amazed how well people can perform either as employees or leaders when you take the time to enable them with desired expectations for the job and then empower them to accomplish it.