Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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October 2005
The Concept of Empowerment

One of the questions business and health care leaders often ask me is "How can I empower my people to be the best they can be?" This is a heartfelt question, as many leaders truly want to see their people get ahead and succeed. Yet the whole idea of empowering others can seem elusive and "out there" for many of us. This Newsletter will discuss the concept of empowerment and will give you questions that you need to answer to determine if, in fact, you are ready to put these concepts into action.

In order for you to be able to empower others, you must have a mindset that makes empowerment possible. Let's look at the following four questions. They will help you decide the direction you want to take to help your people reach their potential.

  1. Do you believe in people and feel that they are any organization's most valuable asset?
  2. Do you actively search for potential leaders to empower, and would you be willing to invest time developing people who have leadership potential?
  3. Would you be willing to let others get credit for what you taught them?
  4. Would you be willing to include others in your journey?

1.    Do you possess a genuine caring for people? This is an important question that should not be taken lightly. I present my Visionary Leadership programs at many Management Retreats, and this is a question I always pose to the participants. How involved do you want to get with your staff? Are you more comfortable with your computer, reports, non-people-related activities, than you are with the people who work for you? Many managers I work with are task-oriented, bottom line people, who want to see the job done, and want it done on time, within budget. Period. The nuances involved in helping people do their jobs and motivating them to go even further, is not something they really want to do. And believe me, it shows. I can detect it when I work with them, and you can be sure their staff detects it and reacts to it as well.

If you believe in people and believe that they can make or break your company, you see your function in a much different light. You see yourself as the "force" behind the actions your staff takes to reach a goal or to accomplish a task. When you can formulate and articulate a vision with enthusiasm, excitement and a willingness to let people in, miracles can occur. There is no technology out there today that can take the place of a loyal, engergetic, committed employee. Each and every person who works for you has potential that has not been tapped. Your willingness to help your people tap into their potential and move towards it will be a benchmark by which your leadership performance will be measured in the years to come. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.

Let your staff know they are your organization's most important asset. Verbalize your feelings to them. Recognize them and reward them when they have achieved some success. Be their cheerleader as well as their disciplinarian. When you have a large goal to meet, recognize and reward at intervals. Celebrate small successes on your way up to the big goal. Give people hope, encouragement and appreciation. But, most of all, care about the people who serve you, and serve them back.

2.   If you chose to leave your organization tomorrow, is there someone else who could take your place? If the answer is NO, then don't think of leaving. Part of your job function is to develop potential leaders from your staff now so that at any time, one of these potential leaders can step up and do your job. You should always be on the lookout for potential leaders from the rank and file in your organization. When you spot someone with potential, help him/her focus on their goals and set a timetable and direction for them to follow. Perhaps they need on-the-job training to be prepared for the next step. Perhaps they need to attend classes outside of work. Do whatever you can to mentor and assist this person to reach his/her potential.

Schedule some one-on-one time with your potential leader. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a precious gift. Time is a commodity we all have so little of. Giving your time to someone to help them better themselves says that you care, you are here to help and direct, and it is your pleasure to be a part of someone else's success. Be the person your staff can come to for encouragement, direction and support. If one of your staff is talented, bright, ambitious, has potential, but you cannot offer that person a position that would allow him/her to utilize those skills, be honest about that if you are asked. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do for a person is to tell them to move on if they have outgrown their present position and there is nowhere else to go in the company. They will thank you for it, and it will open up the possibility of having a new person who is "raring to go" in that position.

3.    You have taught your staff what you know; they have learned it well; they go out and they DO IT. Would you be willing to let others get the credit for what you taught them. This is a question that goes right to our ego, our identity and our self-esteem. Could you take a back seat when the kudos came around, or would you insist someone know you were the one who did the teaching? In a previous Newsletter I shared with you that I was one of the first women to sell drugs and pharmaceuticals for a major drug wholesaler in the United States . I never worked so hard in my life, but the rewards were wonderful. I got accolades, recognition, attention and was paid very well. I was then promoted to management, and I didn't like it at all. I thought I would be a terrific manager, and I was totally wrong.

I had very little patience for the "slow learners" and found myself wanting to do the work myself rather than show someone else how to do it. Truth be known, I missed the limelight, I missed the recognition and appreciation, and helping someone succeed was not high on my list of priorities. It sounds terrible to confess that, but it was the truth. I didn't know that about myself until I went into management. The company I worked for made the assumption that because I was a great Sales Rep, I would automatically be a terrific manager. BIG MISTAKE!  What made me successful in sales completely undermined me in management. I wanted to be the star; I wanted to do it alone; and I had very little patience with people who did not perfom well. I eventually chose to leave and then went out on my own as a professional speaker. But notice, I chose to go it alone once more. I have learned that this is how I work best. It was a painful lesson, but one I share because we are who we are, and it is important to know our strengths and weaknesses. I am totally comfortable working with business and health care leaders and working with THEIR staffs. It is when I have my own staff that "my stuff" comes out. However, I am pleased to humbly report that I am working on it. I have taken my own advice given in these Newsletters, and I believe I am better equipped now to appreciate more the people who help and support my efforts.

4.    Bring other people along on your journey. Many leaders tell me they are afraid to show their weaknesses to their staff, as they feel it would  take away from their "persona" as a leader. As with everything, it is a matter of degree. I believe it is totally inappropriate for a leader to come to work and share his/her personal problems with the staff. I have seen this done, and it put the staff in a very uncomfortable situation. However, you can let your humanity show through. For instance, I have an assistant to help me with computer projects and I have told her that I tend to be a perfectionist and I can get bogged down in the details and I miss the big picture. I have told her if she sees me getting into either of these modes and it is getting in the way of her doing her job, she is to let me know. At first she was hesitant to do that, but I assured her that it was for my benefit as well as hers and that I would appreciate the feedback.

She has pointed things out to me that I would never have seen myself, and I can see how my actions can get in the way. If you can let your staff see you for who you are, and you show them that you can be an effectve leader and still not be perfect, that is good information and role modeling for them. You are letting them in on your journey and they will benefit as well as you. When you and your staff work in an atmosphere of trust, respect, and mutual support, you can all help each other achieve your goals.

We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. If you have any insights, feedback or experiences you would like to share, please e-mail me at I would love to hear from you. Any requests to remain anonymous will be honored. If you wish to pass this Newsletter along to a colleague who may find it of value, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put it on my database. If you know of an organization, association or corporation that would benefit from my message, please let me know. Thanks so much, and have a wonderful month.

NOTE:  We have now updated my Website and you can find all of my past Newsletters by subject and date on the Website. If you have colleagues or friends who would benefit from my past Newsletters, please refer them to my Website and if they wish to receive my Newsletter each month, they can subscribe to it through my Contact form.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and health care. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables at the same meeting...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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