Leadership success requires the opposite of I Me Mine
How crucial empowering your organization is: George Harrison wrote the song “I Me Mine” just as the Beatles were breaking up. In the book of the same name, George writes: “Suddenly I looked around and all I could see was relative to my ego, like ‘this is my piece of paper’ and ‘this is my flannel or ‘give it to me’ or ‘I am’.”
“I Me Mine” are the words of those who always put themselves in front of others. These words remind us not to hoard all power and decision-making as a leader. Leaders empower their teams by sharing responsibilities, providing opportunities for growth, and fostering a collaborative environment. Exceptional leaders create more leaders.
The culture of an organization determines the degree of empowerment. There is a high level of empowerment in an organization with psychological safety, team ownership and appreciation of intrinsic employee motivation. Every leader in the organization, from the CEO to the first level manager, understands how to use the power of empowerment.
How do you know if your organization is highly autonomous? I propose two key measures. One metric focuses on customers and the other on employees.
How well are your customers served?
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) can tell you how much your customers like your business or your product or service. The survey usually consists of a few questions. The one who asks, “How likely are you to recommend our company/product to a friend or colleague?” It is followed by a question that asks the reason for your answer to the first.
Although the NPS is a good barometer, it is not indicative of the level of empowerment of your organization. For this, you need to look at the speed at which customer tickets are resolved. In an empowered organization, customer satisfaction is everyone’s business. When a support ticket is opened, the customer service team jumps on it. When a simple answer can’t solve the problem, support teams immediately reach out to product teams. If your organization is truly customer-focused, product teams handle a customer service request as critical as the next product and prioritize it. In an empowered organization, development teams coach and train the customer service team to improve their product knowledge.
When I led global software engineering teams, my team members knew how to balance the tension between releasing a build and helping the service team on an issue that required deep code review. to determine what was wrong. Everyone was on deck when a customer reported a critical issue. Getting to the root of the problem and providing workarounds until we could provide a complete solution was the number one priority. The teams knew how to collaborate, which showed how empowered they were.
Use service ticket resolution rates to understand how empowered your teams are. A high level of empowerment leads to a high rate of customer ticket resolution.
Another related metric is the number of problems found in your product or service by the customer. The higher the issues, the lower the empowerment, as employees were not sufficiently invested or empowered to produce a quality product or service.
How engaged are your employees?
Under a leader with the “I Me Mine” attitude, we find a lot of attrition. Employees lose their minds and self-esteem and leave the organization. Leaders who consciously learn to delegate and hold their team members accountable do their best. They grow their teams and create a thriving work environment.
Just like NPS, you can measure employee NPS (eNPS). It examines the generated score by asking if the employee would recommend their company to a friend or acquaintance as a place to work.
Periodic surveys can help you gauge the health of your employees’ engagement. If you want to measure the level of empowerment, be sure to ask questions related to psychological safety and autonomy.
Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School, introduced the concept of team psychological safety for interpersonal risk taking. Employees feel safe taking calculated risks and failing in an organization that promotes psychological safety. They don’t hesitate to bring up difficult topics for discussion. They collaborate and support each other.
Here are some typical survey items related to psychological safety:
- I can raise difficult questions and not be negatively affected.
- My failures are seen as learning experiences and I am comfortable accepting and pointing out my mistakes.
- I am comfortable taking calculated risks when tackling a problem.
- I am comfortable asking for help when I need it to do my job.
- My teammates support me.
- I can be myself and diversity is valued.
- I regularly get feedback on how I’m doing in my job.
In an organization that believes in empowerment, there is a high degree of autonomy, which fosters the intrinsic motivation that exists in each of us. We all want to know that we are in control of our destination and prefer self-directed execution.
Here are some typical survey items related to autonomy:
- I know the expectations of my job.
- I can use my creativity to solve problems.
- I have a lot to say about the way my work is done.
- I don’t have to go through several doors to change one aspect of my job.
- I receive the necessary training to do my job.
- If I see that I can do something better, I don’t need approval to change my approach.
When measuring employee engagement, be sure to give importance to issues related to psychological safety and autonomy, two categories that can tell you how empowering your employees are.
Be the leader who avoids “I Me Mine”
Provide psychological safety and autonomy to your employees. Reinforce your values by rewarding employees for taking ownership, even when they fail. Make sure your organization understands the fundamentals and values by which it can operate: guardrails, fog lights, whatever you want to call them. Then let them go and flourish. Empowering your organization creates scale and makes you an exceptional leader.
Written by Shantha Mohan Ph.D.
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Living your values as the key to resilient leadership – A conversation with Mike Ward (CEO – IKEA Canada) by Craig Dowden.
How to Build a Leadership Team That Delivers Great Results by Michael Dattoli.
Making Difficult Decisions Easily Based on Value Systems by Rene Pardo.
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