The COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP COMPASS distinguishes three subcategories to FUTURE POSSIBILITIES. These are Future orientation, Empowerment and Decisiveness. This post will focus on Empowerment.
It is not possible to create sustainability if we hold back our opinion, our expertise or our experience. Finding ways to empower ourselves is a prerequisite for empowering others. Therefore, once we have developed trust in our ability to make a difference, we need to claim the power to do so.
At the same time, in order to create FUTURE POSSIBILITIES, we also need to pay attention to how we disempower ourselves. A habit of disempowerment – be it through fear or an internalized parental critic – keeps us timid and prevents us from creating a better world. For example, while naming injustice is absolutely crucial, being locked in a feeling of victimization diminishes our life force. Similarly, discouragement reduces our potential, our strength and our contribution.
We need to ask ourselves, how do we create sustainability if we hold back our opinion, our expertise or our experience?
While we can allow diverse opinions, even severe disagreements, to surface within collective endeavours, we need to recognize the difference between conflict and disempowerment. When we disempower each other, we derail our collective path into the future. Talking behind somebody’s back, launching intrigues, ganging up against one person – there are many ways to disempower one another. Although, many of these behaviours might appear to be part of the human conditioning, awareness of their impact could help us avoid habitual disempowering actions.
There are many techniques which allow us to empower ourselves such as affirmative thoughts, pursuing our dreams, setting small attainable targets, and above all taking responsibility for the reality we create. Working within a team we can also focus on future recommendations rather than past mistakes. Furthermore, in collaborative sustainability initiatives, transparent agreements with regards to the scope of self-reliant action helps to empower every one involved.
Such agreements build clarity in four areas: a joint understanding of framework conditions (external factors, risks, potential conflicts), agreed upon milestones (goals, targets, key performance indicators, etc.), an outspoken agreement on what can be implemented without consulting other stakeholders (this includes how to communicate about the joint initiatives), and an open commitment how and when joint progress review will take place.
Most importantly, Empowerment is nourished by inspiration. Inspiration awakens not only our individual passion for change but also the passion of those we journey with. In an atmosphere of inspiration people are able to connect to their innate creativity and as a result they are also able to contribute their best. Yet, empowerment is also about enabling self-reliant action, therefore rather than just distributing tasks we need to delegate and decentralize group responsibilities.
Here are a few questions that help guide us toward empowerment:
- If I could not fail, what would I do in the next six months of my life?
- In what way do we as a team inspire others?
- What is our jointly agreed frame for self-reliant action in our organization or sustainability initiative?
This blog post looks at the dimension of FUTURE POSSIBILITIES and zooms into EMPOWERMENT in the Collective Leadership Compass. For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and reviews on amazon.com, or get inspired by an onsite course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change.