Category Archives: Empowerment

Four Reasons Leaders Need To Avoid Labels

Labels were part of my upbringing. I say that because in my family each child was given a label to describe their abilities or personality. One of us was the baker and dramatic. One of us was pushy and a guitar player. One of us was an ice skater and not an academic. And crazy as it may seem, we lived up to those descriptions. They became us and we became them. It’s a very interesting phenomenon, that if we are told that we should behave or act in a certain way or that we are talented or not so capable, we tend to gravitate towards those depictions. We even create a narrative about who we are and what we can accomplish based on those labels.

Similarly in our companies and on our teams, we place labels on the people we work with. We decide early on who they are and what they are able to contribute. We continue to believe that the characteristics we attach to our co-workers and bosses are there for the long haul, never to be adjusted. This is how it is and we evaluate each of our strengths using those labels.

Leaders need to recognize that when they label the people they work with they are not empowering them to be their best or live up to their potential. Rather, the label becomes a self-limiting belief.

 Four reasons leaders need to avoid labels:

 1. LABELS ARE IMPRECISE WAYS OF DESCRIBING OTHERS

If we believe that stereotyping is never a helpful way to assess other people’s abilities, then labeling others falls into the same category. When we attach a particular attitude or ability to someone, we are using a “judgy” word to describe their capabilities rather than being specific about the value they may bring to a project or solution. Adjectives are often a waste of time and only add confusion to working with others.

2. LABELS BECOME SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESIES

We know that when children are “tracked” in how they will academically perform, they tend to stay exactly in that zone. If they are told they are only capable of achieving average grades they begin to believe it and just turn in average work. On the other hand, if they believe they have the potential to rise to outstanding work, they often will get there one way or another. The same is true with the people we work with. If they think we believe they can contribute in an outstanding way they often will.

  • Encourage each team member to try new things and take risks
  • Give credit generously
  • Stop yourself from using labels like “lazy”, “not capable” or “overwhelmed”

3. LABELS CREATE STIGMAS

When leaders use labels other colleagues and departments may start to believe the labels too. So if we say that a team member is not committed (another nutty adjective) others may start to believe that too. This is how we stigmatize people. STOP! Everyone is entitled to have a good and bad day or a more or less successful project. Work on developing the strengths in others and help team members overcome their blindspots.

4. LABELS BRING A TEAM AND ORGANIZATION DOWN

When teams get in the habit of labeling members they will tend to rely on the same people to always do the same work. The result will be less creative outcomes and less participation. Team members will not grow because they will not be encouraged to try projects outside of their “label”. An organization will never develop new leaders with new perspectives or capabilities unless we dump the practice of labeling.

How have labels impacted your leadership or team?

Five Leadership Traits In A Free Workplace

Independence Day is upon us in the United States and many will celebrate with fireworks, social gatherings and plenty of barbecued food. It is a joyous time as we honor those who helped create a country of freedom and choice. Along with having the many opportunities, comes a great deal of responsibility and expectation. We need to be open to different points of view and be willing to hear all sides of an issue before declaring our stand. But what is most fascinating about this process is that once you actually behave this way, it becomes a way of life naturally.

The same is true for any team or organization. When individuals embrace a free… Continue reading | 4 Comments

Six Leadership Hacks To Manage Your Workload

In one of my leadership programs this past week, I met a very devoted leader who was overwhelmed with her workload. As she shared her story and challenges with us her face and entire body grew tense and rigid. She was visibly upset, shaking her head as she rolled out her struggles with us.

“I can’t seem to get a hold of all the work that keeps coming my way. Not only is the amount of work beyond doable, but also the people delegating it to me, don’t have a clue about what else I have been asked to complete. As a result I am continually missing deadlines and everyone seems to be… Continue reading | 2 Comments

Five Tactics To Becoming An Empowered Leader

Leadership is not about a position or title. Leadership is not about taking over a team and dictating what needs to be accomplished. Leadership is not about lecturing others to make sure our ideas are selected for a solution. Leadership is not about being the loudest or smartest in the room.

So what is leadership all about?

Leadership is all about becoming empowered and helping others become empowered. It is about creating cultures of empowerment within organizations and teams. When we feel empowered we can lead with confidence and compassion. We can impact our worlds of work in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Here are five tactics to becoming an empowered leader:

Dig Deep To Locate Your Leadership

This past week I needed to replace my old gas lines with new pipes to connect with an updated system. Although going through the process was a bit uncomfortable, there really was no choice if I no longer wanted water in my gas line. To make this happen, the gas company had to dig deep to locate my current hook-ups and re-trench my property with the new pipes. Holding off was just a temporary solution and a poor choice at that. I had to embrace this total property upheaval if I no longer wanted to lose heat or hot water.

In the same way, we all have busy careers that don’t afford us a lot… Continue reading | 6 Comments