How to Empower Your Employees to Become LeadersIn the rush of day-to-day operations, it’s easy to lose sight of factors that encourage fresh thinking from the people who know the business best—your employees. Many employees have the potential to grow and become leaders, another plus for your business.

Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended, gathered insights on employee empowerment from a variety of business leaders and shared them in this article in Smart Blog on Leadership.

Seven Ways to Empower Your Employees to Become Leaders

1. Listen to what employees say. When employees raise an issue relating to business processes or customer service, management should listen and take action on these issues. When employees see those issues addressed, they’ll continue making useful suggestions.“Soon these employees will become leaders in the workplace because they know the organization values their contributions,” says Josh Tolan of Spark Hire.

2. Encourage thinking that takes risks. It’s vital to create a culture where employees feel confident it’s OK to ask questions, suggest out-of-the-box ideas, and even take actions that might fail. “Out of that failure will come knowledge and longer-term success,” says Lynne Dixon,

3. Deploy clarity and trust. A company that seeks to empower its workforce must provide clarity to ensure employee actions are aligned with business goals. It must also work to establish trust with employees. “Clarity without trust produces inaction,” says Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology. “Trust without clarity produces wasted effort.”

4. Establish and enforce strong workplace policies. When clear-cut, enforceable policies are in place, there’s no longer a need for micromanagement. “Workplace policies give employees the parameters they need to be creative, productive, successful, and happy at work,” says Clara Lippert Glenn, president and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme.

5. Create an inclusive workplace. Do you see leadership potential in your employees? If so, encourage them to offer their opinions and insights—and show you value their input. In a more inclusive environment, employees can grow as leaders. Such an environment “acts not only as a resource for management to help grow business, but also to promote employee growth as well,” says Shirley Engelmeier, CEO of Inclusion/INC. “Everyone wins!”

6. Make it OK to fail. In a more traditional workplace environment, employees believe if they take risks and fail, they’ll soon be out of a job. Empower employees so they know they have authority to fail. “Risk takers, by definition, gain followers—when successful—and having followers it's the definition of a leader,” says Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.

7. Lead with a sense of balance. In an empowered work environment, success is a journey, not the destination. Management leads with a sense of balance—“giving challenges but offering support; accepting failure but holding individuals accountable for success; and trusting their people while expecting respect in return,” says Russell Schramm, vice president of talent acquisition for the Americas, Philips.

These CEOs and top executives agree: Empower your employees and your business will quickly overtake its competitors and gain a stronger foothold in the marketplace.

How do you empower your employees?

How to Build a Sustainable BusinessHere’s a question every business owner considers at some point in their career: “How do I build a sustainable business?”

The answer isn’t simple or quick or easy, but Joe Worth, vice president of operations and partner at B2B CFO says, “the answer is the same for any small business, whether it’s looking to cash out in 50 months or 50 years.”

In a recent article for Entrepreneur, Worth lays out what he calls “a basic checklist” to build a sustainable business.

A Sustainable Business is Financially Strong

Having financial controls in place reduces the possibilities of theft or fraud and enables you to make effective decisions about the future. “Until you know where every penny’s going,” Worth says, “your business isn’t on sound footing.”

Reduce or Eliminate Distractions

Your job as CEO or business owner is to focus on the future—“building relationships, developing new products and services and overseeing other big-picture ideas.”

But you can’t attend to these vital functions if you’re distracted by cash flow issues or hiring and firing employees.

“Hire trustworthy and smart people to handle the details,” Worth says. “They’re worth it.”


Whatever products or services you’re providing, keep thinking about ways to diversify your offerings. “Spreading sales over more customers, product lines, or markets … enhances opportunities for growth.”

Document Business Processes

Worth says, “I often tell owners if they want to be a bigger company eventually, act like one now.”

This means you have to maintain accurate and comprehensive documentation of your business processes.

Strive for Continuous Improvement

An inefficient business is almost guaranteed to fail sooner, rather than later. Improve efficiencies wherever possible, Worth says. “Every dollar of improvement here will result in more dollars of value, whether it’s four years from now or 40.”

Guard Your Intellectual Property

Think it’s too costly to hire an IP attorney? If so, your business could be at risk of losing valuable rights for trademarks, names, designs, technologies, etc.

Maintain Equipment and Upgrade Where Necessary

The technology used in your business must be maintained because, without it, what do you have?

As Worth notes, you should always have access to funds “that can be used to take advantage of technological improvements, expand operations and keep everything in running order.”

Be a Fair and Inclusive Employer

Obviously, a high-performing team is a must-have for the longevity of your business. Put HR policies in place that increase employee retention, rather than diminish it.

Don’t Compete on Price

Becoming known for undercutting the competition is a non-starter, Worth says. Not only does it destroy your profit margins, “you want customers to choose you for your superior products and services, not because you’re cheapest.”

Businesses that focus on the quick buck rarely last long.

Instead, a company whose owner charts growth and progress in years, not months, “is a much easier ship to steer.”

What are you doing to build a sustainable business?  


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