Authenticity, but Only if You’re Kind

authenticity workplace kind
Authenticity: Yay or Nay?

Do you ever encourage authenticity in the workplace but wonder if maybe it’s too much? By this, I mean, have you encountered people in your lives who are authentically just not the best? Another term for the people I’m thinking of is “jerks”. How do you reconcile authentic behavior at work with people who are authentically inconsiderate, unkind, and perhaps obnoxious too?

Merriam Webster defines authentic as “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” In this day and age, we are constantly calling for authenticity. Telling people to speak their truth, erecting safe spaces everywhere we can, and lifting the voices of people who have suffered throughout history. When we call for authenticity, our intentions are usually good, but this term and call to action can be overused. 

What do I mean by this? Think of it as the expression, “You do you,” at the core of this comment is separation. One person essentially is saying to another, ‘I disagree with part of this, but don’t care enough to say otherwise.’ It’s an interaction where two people do the best they can for themselves. 

True Authenticity

When we call for authenticity, it needs to help unite our employees. It should create more inclusion and less division. Ensure that your employees’ authentic selves are helping bring people closer together and not pushing others away. I’m sure we have all experienced people who come off as narcissistic and disrespectful. These types of people often don’t really care about other people’s needs or feelings. These authentic behaviors definitely do not bring people closer together. So, how can we work to exclude this sort of authenticity from our workplaces?

A Lesson in Authenticity

First of all, check yourself as you work to be authentic. Ask yourself, is your focus on yourself or on other people? Your focus needs to be directed outwards towards other people to accomplish the true purpose of authentic behavior. If you are only focusing on behaviors that feel self-fulfilling, you will more often than not exclude those around you without even realizing it. 

This leads me to my second point. Proper authentic behavior manifests itself in vulnerability—the good kind of vulnerability. To be truly vulnerable with your employees, you cannot have boundaries that exclude them from getting to know the real you. Again, it’s key that you are focusing outwards. If your attention is directed towards yourself, the people around you will sense this as a barrier to getting to know the real you. 

Some people shy away from being vulnerable at work, thinking that vulnerability requires sharing intimate details about one’s life. However, as Kristen Benefiel shares with me in an episode of The Leadership with Heart podcast, it is entirely possible to be vulnerable and yet listen more than you speak.  

Understand Your Own Value System

I devote an entire chapter of my most recent book, The Art of Caring Leadershipto the challenge of being authentic. The act of authenticity ties into knowing yourself so well that you can manage your behaviors and actions towards others. In particular, to inspire those around you in their own endeavors. A huge part of the journey towards authenticity is understanding your own value system. What are your motivators, what do you hope to be remembered for?

I promise you that if you put time and care into each step that I mentioned above, your authenticity will be perceived as the compassionate action it is. In addition, you will be authentic in an outward-focused way that helps you present yourself in a welcoming and inclusive manner to those around you.  

Let’s weed out the authenticity evoked by expressions like YOLO and “you do you”. Being authentic is a glorious unique trait, but it does not come without careful effort. Leaders, be the example for your teams. Make it so that any “authentic jerks” will see the beauty in the selfless act of real authenticity. The kind of authenticity that brings people together. 

174: Leaders with Heart Practice Self-Care

leaders with heart practice self-care

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather interviews Cordelia Gaffar – Emotions Opener Coach, Creator of Replenish Me ™, Speaker, Author of Detached Love, Co-Host of the Unlearning Labels Podcast, and a Caring Leadership Community Coach. Cordelia also is the mother of 6 children and left Corporate America after her third child to focus on raising her children. Her story began 18 years ago, and her expertise is just the right blend of corporate, family, and community. She is a firm believer in self-care, and in this episode, you’ll see why.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Healing happens from within. 
  • Leadership can come from family, friendships, community, or corporate – it is not limited to a job title. 
  • Women’s voices need to be amplified in workplaces. 
  • Community is medicine. 
  • You must first take care of yourself in order to take care of others. 

People tend to want to pour from an empty cup. But when you don't care for yourself, you don't know how to care for other people. – Cordelia Gaffar #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Cordelia Gaffar is an Emotions Opener Coach, Creator of Replenish Me ™, Speaker, Author of Detached Love, Co-Host of the Unlearning Labels Podcast, and a Caring Leadership Community Coach.

Cordelia is based out of the Washington DC – Baltimore area. She is also the mother of 6 children – she actually left corporate America after her third child to homeschool her kids. 

Cordelia Gaffar studied at the University of Vermont, where she got her degree in French language and Philosophy. Since then, she has continued her education through various certification programs such as the Shaw Academy. 

She is a true believer in self-care and believes leaders must be whole themselves in order to give to their team members, community, and peers. 

Lead Yourself First

People tend to want to pour from an empty cup. But when you don’t care for yourself, you don’t know how to care for other people. That’s really one of the most important aspects of being a leader. The self-awareness has to be there. I often have people come to me wanting to help others – when they are barely holding it together themselves. To me, there’s not much somebody can do for someone else when they are in need just as much. So, what I always recommend is for leaders to take a step back and take note of where they fall short and then be open to receiving the help they need to grow.

self-care cordelia gaffar caring leadership

Being Present

I’m guilty of being caught up in the past or the future. But with time, I have learned that the best thing we can do is be present. Perfection is an illusion, right, and the medicine for that is to be with your emotions and be with who you are. Life is happening right now in the present. That’s the first step, just acknowledging the now and recognizing that community is the medicine. The allowing of community is the medicine, and the allowing of the now is the medicine we all need.

When you care from the inside out, people feel that. People are drawn to that. People recognize that. – Cordelia Gaffar #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Base of Human Existence is Love

It’s not romantic love – although it can be. What I mean is if I had to put it in a word, I’d say the breath that gives us life is love; the thing that creates us is love. The less we attach to material things, and the less we accept projections, the better we can lead ourselves. In my case, this is what lead me to get myself out of bed. It was a choice. I don’t want to make it sound so simple but, all of our problems are created in our heads. Once we gain control of ourselves, our thoughts, emotions, then we are indeed in control. From there, we can lead others because we have already led ourselves.


Connect with Cordelia on LinkedIn 

Subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

3 Essential Steps to Create a Workplace of Belonging

us belonging workplace heather younger
A Poll

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong somewhere? Have you experienced a panic-inducing bout of imposter syndrome? Been the black sheep of the group? Or even been verbally or physically excluded from a place or situation? Had no sense of belonging?

I’d bet my bottom dollar the answer to at least one of those questions was yes for everyone reading this. It’s a yes for me too. I was an outsider for most of my life. I grew up the literal black sheep of my family (you can read more about that here), and it took a long time before I could really find my place. It took an even longer time to feel like I belonged in this world. I had to navigate belonging under my own roof and with my relatives. Many are blessed not to have to face that challenge. 

I’m here to talk to you about belonging under a different roof. One that every employee in the world experiences: belonging at work. I have three tried and true recommendations for leaders to create a sense of belonging at work.

The Definition

When I say belonging, I mean “the feeling that you have value, a home or a place in which you are fully accepted”.

To clarify, you cannot possibly know if your employees feel like they belong without first knowing your employees. 

Step One

Let’s begin with step one. You have to seek to understand your employees in their own shoes, with all their intricacies that extend beyond the workplace. The deeper your understanding of your employee goes, the better suited you will be to find the perfect fit for them within your organization. 

One of the biggest mistakes glaring under the microscope of 2020 and 2021 is making assumptions about people. Assumptions lead to microaggressions, misunderstanding, and otherwise harmful behaviors. Start to understand your employees better by practicing active listening and including everyone’s voices in the conversation. However, if you’d like more information on this step, you can read about it in my book under the chapter on listening cultures. You can also listen to this podcast episode with Sarah Bierenbaum.

Step Two

The second step in creating a culture of belonging is to seek out your teams’ strengths and let them shine. This builds off the previous step. If you have already spent time connecting with and getting to know your team better, it won’t be too challenging to discover their unique talents. There are five key ways to uncover your teams’ strengths. I go into detail about them in my book, but I’ll refer to a couple here as well. Go to the employee themself. Ask them where they think they shine and where their biggest area for improvement is. Ask them which part of their job is their favorite; we tend to enjoy doing what we’re good at. In addition, offer your team assessments like Strengthsfinder, DISC, Meyers Briggs. 

Accompany these new behaviors with recognition and positive feedback, even if the result is a failure. Commend your employees for trying and testing their limits. If you would like to learn more about uncovering your teams’ strengths and maximizing them, listen to this podcast episode with Timbra Yoakum. 

Step Three

Ironically, the third step to creating a sense of belonging is, in fact, inclusion. You will only feel that you truly belong somewhere if you are welcomed to the table. Trust is the foundation for any safe space to be possible. There needs to be an explicit and implicit invitation to your employees to speak openly and honestly.

Furthermore, welcoming your employees’ voices helps them feel safe and cared for. You can begin this process of inclusion by sharing your own stories first. Lead by example. If you want a more detailed explanation of this, I invite you to listen to this episode of my podcast with Mark Nagel. In it, we dig deeper into the creation of safe spaces and how to encourage your team to open up and let their voices be heard. 

If you have any more questions about the intricacies of creating a sense of belonging within your organizations, then please join us in the Caring Leadership Community! Also, I invite you to take the Caring Leadership Self-Assessment to gauge where your strengths and areas of improvement are. This will better guide you as you create a culture of caring within your workspace.

173: Leaders with Heart Ask for Help

leaders with heart ask for help garry turner

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather interviews Garry Turner – friend, Caring Leadership Coach, and International Product Manager for IMCD Group. Garry shows up in his most authentic self in this episode. As you can tell from the first 5 minutes of listening, Garry is someone who believes being vulnerable is the key to connection and community. Take a listen to these rich 20 minutes of work, personal, and life advice from two strangers from across the globe who have developed a genuine friendship. 

Garry was chosen as one of the Caring Leadership Coaches because of his use of progressive coaching approaches to connect individuals and teams to themselves, and each other, more meaningfully — to deliver exceptional outcomes as a result. Garry is such a caring human being, you’ll surely enjoy these next 23 minutes. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • We are more than just our job titles.
  • Community is essential for our well-being. 
  • School doesn’t teach emotions, we must teach ourselves.
  • Practicing being vulnerable will help build the vulnerability muscle. 
  • Empowerment and delegations are not the same.
  • The Caring Leadership Community is a place to rely on for answers.

The more we practice being vulnerable, the more comfortable we get with it. – Garry Turner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Garry Turner is a friend, Caring Leadership Coach, strategic advisor, podcast host, and International Product Manager for IMCD Group. He is based out of the United Kingdom and actually connected with Heather through LinkedIn.

Garry Turner has over 15 podcast appearances, has delivered more than ten keynote talks, has produced multiple workshops & hackathons, and is regularly featured on BizCatalyst 360. His work is based on progressive inside-out change that he has learned from his experience in international sales, culture, people, and systems building expertise.

He currently juggles multiple positions as a coach, advisor, podcast host, and product manager – in the most recent few years he has implemented the 9 Caring Leadership key tenets and has seen the positive consequences in his teams. 

The Vulnerability Muscle

There is truly a power in opening up and being vulnerable. Now, I don’t mean having personal word-vomit every time you speak with someone, what I mean is sharing small nuggets of information about yourself – the good and the bad. We need this for connection. It’s really a practice. The more we practice being vulnerable, the more comfortable we get with it. I used to think of vulnerability as a weakness. When a computer is vulnerable it is bad, but we humans, we need it to build our relationships and make them stronger. 

leaders with heart ask for help garry turner

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

When you stop and think about it – we’ve never been taught how to be vulnerable. We’ve never been taught emotion. As kids, teenagers, and even adults, we have always just been told what is wrong and what is right. Because of this, so many of us struggle with understanding and showing our emotions. Being vulnerable is hard for everyone – I think all sexes, genders, and races experience this. Lately, I have seen a shift in myself, and what your book highlights, of people becoming more open about their feelings. It’s been a movement towards vulnerability, toward mental and emotional growth, that creates a safe space for employees to feel comfortable asking for help and being honest.

Caring leaders get out of your way and let you be brilliant. – Garry Turner #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Caring Leaders Need a Community to Rely On

Empowerment and delegation are not the same. Yet, these two words are often used interchangeably. Empowerment is what a Caring Leader does – they build you up and then let you shine. It’s more about getting out of your way and letting you be brilliant. The way to become a better leader is to empower your employees to be better leaders themselves. As leaders, we must be aware of our gaps and allow for others to fill those. Before the Caring Leadership community, I relied on close friends and LinkedIn as my community. However, now I have access to feedback from other coaches and HR professionals who have or are living the same struggles I am currently facing. The community is ultimately my go-to place for any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding HR or leadership. Join me in the community to be part of the movement.


Connect with Garry on LinkedIn 

Subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

How to Inspire Spontaneous Caring Leadership

soccer spontaneous caring leadership
A Hard Hit & a Quick Save

Last week I was at my son’s soccer game when I witnessed a beautiful example of spontaneous Caring Leadership. One of the kids playing was hit in the chest with the ball; you know, the kind of hit that knocks the wind right out of you. It was a hard impact, and immediately the coach started to run over to check on the boy. But, before the coach even got there, the referee had stopped the game. He was already doing breathing exercises, helping the boy regain his breath. By the time the coach got there, he didn’t even need to help.  

I had just witnessed a perfect demonstration of leading right where you’re at, in your own shoes, irrespective of title.  

The Unassuming Leader

We probably hear stories about special moments all the time; good samaritan posts throughout the world frequently go viral on social media. But leading doesn’t need to be some grand sacrificial gesture. It’s the simple act of being present and serving others by meeting their needs with compassion. The referee was a perfect example of this. Because he was there first, the coach didn’t have to attend to the injured player after all. 

In this analogy, the coach is the leader who doesn’t have to get involved. If teams can self-manage and help support one another, the leader is free to focus on other things. The best leaders are the ones who aren’t constantly intervening and problem-solving on behalf of their team. One of the greatest marks of success for a leader is when their team can function just as efficiently without the leader being present. Their ability to work without the leader’s guidance is because they have truly learned how to excel at their jobs. It should be noted that this, probably in part, is due to the investment and distance of their leader. 

A Message for You, Wherever You Are

Whether or not you serve in the most junior position or sit at the top of your organization, I urge you to be alert for moments when spontaneous leadership could bloom. Think of the impact these small moments of compassionate service can have on the function of your workplace. I guarantee that stepping up and demonstrating leadership in the more mundane parts of your workday (or your whole day) will drive up the recognition you receive. Hopefully, your leader will realize the lessening of their workload as you help solve problems here and there, saving them time and energy, two of their most valuable resources. 

Acting independently and using your critical thinking to resolve issues will also provide an example to your peers. Then, they too might assume responsibility and take the lead during some of the daily hiccups organizations encounter. 

Encouraging Spontaneous Leadership

If you feel that your organization’s teams do this well, then wonderful! Keep up the excellent work. However, if you are experiencing quite the opposite and are struggling to think of ways your team independently problem solves, then here are some steps you can take to promote leadership at every level of your organization. 

Step One

First, provide the example; be the exemplary Caring Leader. This means giving your team grace when grace is due, and in some cases, it might be due quite often. Make sure you are filling your cup through self-care and other fulfilling activities. This allows you to continue to give to your team even when it gets tough. 

In episode 165 of my podcast with Eddy Badrina, we discuss the shortage of grace in many of today’s workplaces. Eddy summarized this profoundly when he said, “I think if people had more grace in the business setting, business would be more robust in the long term.”

When an employee makes a mistake within or outside of the purview of their role, if you respond to that mistake by showing them grace, they will feel more comfortable in their role. The more comfortable and safe an employee feels the more they will trust their leaders. You believe in them, they believe in you, and soon they will start acting with authority. The type only a well-trusted employee can perform with, and odds are, they will excel in their performance. 

Step Two

Second, create a psychologically safe space. I devote an entire chapter of my latest book to this concept. The sheer impact that listening to your employees can have on an organization is mindblowing. Listen to your employees, show you understand them, and give them a chance to use their voices. Allow more idea sharing and enforce safe boundaries to keep out microaggressions and prejudice. 

In Episode 57 of my podcast, Mellisa Ebert and I discuss the concept of psychological safety. She expresses, “Build rapport and respect with your team so that they will feel safe to feel vulnerable.” Once you create this space for your team to act in and then take a step back to allow them to function independently, you will be surprised by who will step up to the plate. People will come forward in support of one another and even stretch themselves to make sure things work without having to get their supervisor involved. 

Step Three

Lastly, recognition must be a critical cultural piece of an organization blessed with spontaneous acts of caring leadership. There’s a common phrase, “nobody wants to go unnoticed,” and while as a mom of four, there are definitely times I want to go “unnoticed,” this expression has some truth to it. 

Some stats from the HR Technologist prove this. “63% of employees who are recognized are very unlikely to look for a new job,” compared to only 11% of unrecognized employees who would do the same. Not only will turnover improve, but people who are recognized are proven to perform better. 

The End Game

Empowering your team through the example of Caring Leadership, giving them the space to act and think independently, and recognizing them when they try, will create more spontaneous leaders. These leaders will be just the same caliber as that quick thinking and compassionate referee I witnessed diffuse a challenging moment so smoothly in my son’s game. 

Not sure if your organization needs help creating opportunities for leaders to shine at all levels? Take the Caring Leadership Self-Assessment today to find out where your strengths and weaknesses in leadership lie. 

172: Leaders with Heart are Self-Aware

Nick Boulas self aware

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather interviews Nick Boulas, Director of Leadership Development at BBL Hospitality. Nick has been in the hospitality industry for over 40 years and is now the Director of Leadership Development with BBL Hospitality for over 22 hotels and 15 restaurants. Nick Boulas is originally from Horseheads, NY where he grew up in the Greek diner business. He then went on to study Hospitality Management at Niagara University. 

Nick has been on a mission for the last 20 years to improve workplace culture by working with individuals and teams in an effort to bring about positive change. He believes in caring leadership and works to develop his employees into the best leaders they can be.

Key Takeaways:

  • Surround yourself with family and friends that understand your devotion to your team members.
  • Always be on the lookout for opportunities.
  • Look for the greatness in your current employees.
  • Honesty and transparency will always lead to greater results.
  • Making others feel great will make you feel great as well.
  • Gratitude creates a ripple effect.

Nick was born and raised in Horseheads, NY, where he grew up in the Greek diner business. He attended Niagara University, where he studied Hospitality Management.

Nick has been in the hospitality industry for over 40 years. During that time, he has held positions such as Food and Beverage Director, Director of Sales and Marketing, Operations Manager, chain restaurant management, and currently works as General Manager and Director of Leadership Development with BBL Hospitality. He now oversees 22 hotels and 15 restaurants.

In his current role as Director of Leadership Development, he is responsible for assisting in the growth of associates to help them reach their goals and facilitate their growth. He has developed several training programs in EQ, Servant Leadership, Team Building (AYS), and Storytelling.

You have to know who you are who your team is to lead effectively. – Nick Boulas #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Develop the Potential

I have been on a mission for the last 20 years to improve workplace culture by working with individuals and teams to bring about positive change. I do this within my organization by actively training employees to become leaders. I believe that managers should always look for opportunities to develop their own team members into leadership positions instead of seeking new hires for leadership positions. Truthfully, most people have the potential. Many just don’t express the desire to move into leadership positions. As leaders, managers, directors, we can miss these opportunities if we’re not looking. Actively looking for greatness will open your eyes to the potential you already have. As leaders, we don’t push – we just plant the seed.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Being honest, transparent, and genuine with your team members will always lead to better results. For example, I saw what everyone was saying about their team member. Yet, when it came time to talk to her about it, I tried to minimize that. That was a learning lesson for me because as soon as she gave me the green light to lead, I let it all out. Looking back, I should have been transparent with her from the beginning. Because at the end of the day, we are the leaders, and it’s our job to guide our teams – not the other way around.

Be aware of self-awareness. – Nick Boulas #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with Nick on LinkedIn 

Subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

171: Leaders with Heart Know Their Purpose

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather interviews Brooke Erol, Consultant, Author, Trainer, Chief Purpose Officer. Brooke is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, but has lived in San Diego for the past few years. She is the author of Create a Life You Love: Reflections on Living Life to the Fullest and From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results

Heather chose Brooke Erol to be one of the Caring Leadership coaches because, as you will see from this episode, she is someone who naturally cares for her people. She believes Caring Leadership is what organizations are currently missing. 

In this episode, Brooke shares her journey to finding her purpose and what she has learned along the way. Now she focuses on helping others to do the same.

Key Takeaways:
  • People will always remember how you made them feel.
  • Working for a good company, making good money doesn’t mean you will be happy. 
  • Your introverted team members may require more from you. 
  • Being a Caring Leader can be exhausting, but it is worth it. 

I quit that company 22 years ago and I still remember two leaders because they were Caring Leaders. – Brooke Ozlem Erol #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Brooke Erol, Consultant, Author, Trainer, Chief Purpose Officer. Brooke is originally from Istanbul, Turkey, but has lived in San Diego for the past few years. She is the author of Create a Life You Love: Reflections on Living Life to the Fullest and From Hierarchy to High Performance: Unleashing the Hidden Superpowers of Ordinary People to Realize Extraordinary Results. 

Brooke studied in Istanbul, Turkey and continued her education at the University of California – San Diego where she earned an extension in Business Management – Marketing. Additionally, she has worked to earn various titles in America through MIT, Udemy, Liautaud Institute, and The University of North Carolina. 

She is currently working as an ambassador and founder of various organizations such as Your Best Life, Inc. and Purposeful Business. Furthermore, Brooke is also a Caring Leadership Coach in the Caring Leadership Community. You can learn more about her here.

More Than a Salary

In Istanbul I had a good job, at a good company, but I always felt that something was missing. I was told often to only bring my “professional self” to work and that was often conflicting for me. My professional self is someone who cares. I care about what’s going on in your life, how your family is doing, and knowing how my team members are. This idea of only bringing my “professional self” to work was counterproductive for me and eventually led to me leaving this company – even though my salary was great. It truly is about more than just money, and when organizations start to recognize this is when things will change. 

I work with c-level executives that can’t understand why their employee retention is so low. They often argue that they “pay above average”, but more and more of the younger working class cares more about their well-being than their salary.

Finding Your Purpose

It took me a long time to find my purpose. I came to the U.S. and had a lot of my identity stripped from me because so much of who I was was tied to Turkey. Now that I was in America I had to think a lot about who I was without any titles. This really helped me understand that what I wanted to do was change the workplace. Because I’ve seen so much suffering in the workplace, my whole purpose became to help all human beings find purpose in what they do. Now I truly feel fulfilled in what I do and my goal is to help others feel this way as well.

So many CEOs are surprised that this new generation doesn’t stay even if you pay well. It’s about more than just a salary. – Brooke Erol #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Caring Leadership Is More Rewarding

I have always been a Caring Leader, even if it was referred to as that, I have always gravitated more to this type of leadership style. That is why showing up as my “professional self” was so conflicting for me. I wanted to do something that used my skills and gifts. I wanted to do the right thing, not for myself, but for the world. Looking back, I am so glad that I went this route. This leadership style is always going to be more rewarding for my team members and for myself because it promotes productivity and happiness within the workplace. Now I can help others become better leaders and help other organizations keep their employees happy. Caring Leadership takes time. It could be exhausting, but at the end of the day, it is worth it.


Connect with Brooke on LinkedIn 

Subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

Support Your Team by Not Micromanaging

micromanaging restaurant
A Honeymoon Tale

Before I share the main subject of this blog post, I want to tell you all a story about my honeymoon. My husband and I went out to a lovely restaurant one evening, and I will forever remember that experience because of the service we received. The waiters were attentive and kind and totally non-intrusive. They would ensure our every need was met and then go off and wait patiently until it was evident they were needed again. I loved their service because there was no micromanaging. 

Have you ever been out to eat and had the opposite experience? Servers constantly badgering at you and hanging around the table, interrupting your experience, and even occasionally being nosy? I don’t particularly appreciate feeling hounded when I get the occasional chance to go out and relax. It truly detracts from the independent feeling of getting away from it all, ‘it’ being life itself. 

Now to my point. My excellent honeymoon service is quite similar to the role that an empowering leader plays. On the contrary, experiencing bad service at a restaurant is very similar to a manager who micromanages. 

Empowerment vs Micromanagement

Micromanagement is when a manager is totally hands-on. Reluctant to let go, the micromanager has to control every step of every process they oversee. No matter how small or mindless the enterprise or activity may seem. Additionally, these types of managers may be bogged down by the fear of failure, insecurity about the future, or the abilities of their team. Perhaps these feelings are founded on personal experience. Undoubtedly, that would be valid. But it does not detract from the direct negative impact that micromanaging has on any organization. 

It is crippling to micromanage people. It crushes their free and independent spirit. Being micromanaged by servers essentially ‘kills the vibe.’ Furthermore, it can reorient a wonderful trajectory the occasion is set on towards an uncomfortable and less than desirable end. The ability to act freely and with independence is precisely how an entrepreneurial spirit is born. That spirit leads to innovation and creative problem-solving, which improve the organization and help the business succeed. 

On the contrary, empowerment means promoting the self-actualization of another’s full potential. The act of empowerment directly correlates to a fertile work environment. Organizations with empowering leaders experience growth within every level of their organization. Above all, Empowering Leaders must trust their team members, allowing them to take risks and fail without fear of retribution. These kinds of leaders are secure in their leadership abilities. 

A Testimony

I recently was speaking with a client about this dichotomy in her own career. She talked about the person she now reports to. Unfortunately, she is now the direct report of a micromanager. This client is currently unhappy due to her manager’s leadership style that inhibits her from performing the way she knows she can. She is comfortable and confident with who she is, how she leads, and her role in her teams’ lives. Yet now, she finds herself under the scrutiny of a boss who wants to coach her in every decision. My client, usually a confident and capable leader, is now suffering from insecurities and anxiety surrounding her work performance. Consequently, she is afraid to act outside the direct view of her manager. 

As a result, my client now feels stuck behind the limitations posed on her from above and on all sides. She is unable to make a move that reflects her individuality and own entrepreneurial spirit. She also feels that she is not progressing in her growth and knowledge as her ability to be a free-moving and independent thinker has been nearly snuffed out. 

Here at Employee Fanatix, we work diligently to eradicate fear from workplaces worldwide. Therefore, how do we avoid tendencies of micromanagement and minimize fear in our people?

A Lesson in Empowerment

The first step for leaders seeking to move completely into the lane of an empowering leadership style is to understand the difference between micromanagement and empowerment fully. The second step is to better understand those you are working with and your shared goals. The third and final step is to prepare yourself to encourage employees in risk-taking, and yes, even failure. 

Here is a list of behaviors required of empowering leaders:

  • Release control
  • Be self-aware of how you are feeling
  • Trust those you hire
  • Trust your recruitment capabilities
  • Believe that everyone has gifts that can help team performance

For a more detailed lesson in empowerment, I advise that you visit the Caring Leadership Academy where there is an entire course on this subject. Additionally, I also have a supplementary blog post that goes hand-in-hand with this one; read that article here.