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The Fertilized Soil – Putting “Power” Back In Empowerment

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 13, 2012 in Building Confidence, Thinking Positive

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As busy professionals looking to move our practices and careers ahead, we can lose sight of how important empowering others around us can contribute to our own success.  Sometimes, we view training someone on a task or area of technical expertise as a time consuming activity when ultimately it can be a timesaving investment if we give that person responsibility for something that we don’t necessarily have to do ourselves and empower them in the process.

In the planting technique known as “companion planting”, three complimentary crops are planted close together in a cluster which fertilizes the soil and helps the plants grow stronger. For instance, grouping corn, beans, and squash is the traditional planting method of certain Native American groups. The corn acts a natural pole for bean vines to climb, while the beans add nitrogen to the soil improving the fertility of the plot. Bean vines can also help stabilize the corn stalks which keep them from blowing over in strong wind. Squash acts as a living mulch that provides shade to emerging weeds and helps to retain soil moisture. The prickly squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure. The plants, in effect, empower each other to grow.

In the traditional situational leadership model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, empowerment is used as a cooperative form of personal power as compared to competitive or self-protective power. It is also proactive, positive, and constructive. An effective leader should actively seek to increase the readiness level or capabilities of those around them and within the groups they are leading.

Empowerment is the power to accomplish your own goals, or helping others achieve theirs, through the process of group potency, meaningfulness, autonomy and impact.

Groups, as a whole, profit from their members gaining the ability to succeed together and be effective as a team. The team also needs to have the perception that the tasks they perform are necessary and valuable, not menial and trite. For a group to accomplish their goals, independence allows members to voice ideas and opinions that will aid in the ultimate success of a task. Autonomy does not imply that you abandon supervision entirely, but that such supervision is not constraining to the group. Finally, the thoughts and reflections of outside individuals on the group and its accomplishments are also significant and if sentiments of the group and its work are not positive, this will eventually duplicate in the minds of the members and can withdraw empowerment.

Business owners and leaders have often withheld empowerment because they have concerns about employees having the confidence and skill to leave and take the business with them. The question becomes, if those people felt empowered by their leaders, would they leave in the first place? People need to learn and grow, no matter their job title or level. Empowering someone could take the form of transitioning a simple activity like a weekly or monthly report from your workload giving the employee responsibility and accountability for that action. Or, it could be something more daunting like turning over a portion of client service on a large account. No matter what specific tasks you choose to relinquish, helping someone else learn and grow in their current position will help your practice learn and grow over time.

What steps can you take this week to empower someone around you, fertilizing the soil, which will ultimately increase your own productivity and personal success?

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The Lioness or Tigress? – Woman in the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 28, 2010 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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We’re called the fairer sex, but when it comes to the workplace, there are certainly no discriminations that favor the female of the species. You can count on looks for some jobs, but for the most part, it is talent and sheer tenacity that count. Look at the feminine aspect of the jungle, more specifically, the lioness and the tigress. Undoubtedly two of the most powerful creatures in the wild, these two females may belong to the same cat family, but they’re like chalk and cheese when it comes to their profession. So the question is – as a professional woman, are you a lioness or a tigress? How do you know which species you are?

The lioness is brave, audacious and single-minded; she hunts down her prey with precision and skill; and her family means more to her than anything else. She is loyal to the point of docility, a trait that shows in how she waits for the lion to eat her kill first, after which she and the cubs eat their share. So if you’re a lioness, you’re very good at your job, extremely committed to your organization, determined to be the best at what you do, and willing to go to any lengths to achieve your company’s goals. But on the downside, you don’t stake claim to your victories; rather, you allow your boss or immediate supervisor to garner the glory while you’re happy with the scraps they throw you. You don’t like the limelight, even when you know that you deserve to be in it. And you don’t mind staying in the shadow all your life, even though deep down you long for your place in the sun.

The tigress on the other hand is a beast that prefers solitude. While she’s protective of her cubs and willing to share her kill with them and the father, she does not take too kindly to other tigers from intruding on her turf. She is neither dependant on the tiger nor subservient to him. She decides if she wants to let him share the kill or not. So if you have a tigress in you, you’re a team player even as you still retain your individuality. You don’t brook any nonsense, from your coworkers or your superiors. You demand acknowledgement for your achievements, and you know that you can do anything as well as the male of the species, even though you’re smaller in size.

So now tell me, would you prefer to be a lioness or a tigress? The answer is obvious – so if you’re a lioness, it’s time you started morphing into a tigress. It’s not that hard if you set your mind to it – the basic characteristics are all similar, it’s just your attitude that needs to change. All you need to do is to take pride in what you do and stand up for your own rights at your workplace; demand what you deserve, be your own person instead of being content to stand a few steps behind other people, and you’re well on the way to becoming a regular tigress.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of degree online. She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009 @gmail.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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