When it comes to the success of a particular company, employee empowerment can be understood as a key contributing factor, and one that is directly influenced by styles of leadership.
From an overall organizational point of view, employee empowerment is significant for a number of reasons. Writing for the Houston Chronicle Small Business Section, Leigh Richards describes a number of these reasons, stating that employee empowerment can improve productivity, reduce costs, improve customer service, and help an organization to embrace change (Richards, 2016, n.p.). For Richards, these benefits arise from the fact that empowering employees taps into the vast resource of employee talent, innovation, creativity, and experience, allowing their varied perspectives to feed it to company policy and ultimately result in an organization which is more resourceful and innovative as well as more internally cohesive.
More than any other factor, leadership plays a significant role in empowering employees. Drew Hendricks, for example, writing for Forbes, states that: “only rare, ‘transformational leaders’ are able to prevent employees from being excessively reliant on their bosses, cultivating instead a staff that feels empowered and self-guided” (Hendricks, 2014, np.). Transformational leaders can be understood as leaders who facilitate and encourage employee independence, using strategies such as feedback, involvement in decision-making, psychological as well as physical rewards, and leading by example. This type of leadership encourages employees to apply their own resources, talents, and experiences rather than relying on instruction from above, resulting in a staff that is dynamic and unified.
In my own experience of working a late-night shift in an independent fast-food diner, I have seen first-hand the effects of this type of leadership. The leadership style of the management in this environment encourages employees to take ownership of certain key responsibilities such as menu choices and special offers, allowing employees to invest their own experience and creativity into the success of the restaurant. The effect of this style of management has been to engage and enthuse employees who might otherwise be low on motivation and enthusiasm for a low-paid and hard-working position, allowing them to take pride in their work and feel directly involved in the success of the company. The result is both better customer service and a high rate of employee retention and loyalty.
As can be seen from this example, transformational styles of leadership can therefore have a direct impact on employee empowerment, and by extension the culture and success of the organization.
- Hendricks, D. (2014, January 27). “6 Ways to Empower Your Employees with Transformational Leadership.” Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/drewhendricks/2014/01/27/6-ways-to-empower-your-employees-with-transformational-leadership/#7bb2fabb3268.
- Richards, L. (2016). “What are the Benefits of Employee Empowerment?” Retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/benefits-employee-empowerment-1177.html.