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Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Pain and Pleasure of Empowering

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Empowering others is an investment of faith in someone and is never without its challenges. In being inclusive and exposing people to your work and thinking space, you are potentially creating a low anxiety environment for them – one that will be fruitful for co-learning and creativity. They don’t need to perform – just watch and learn. There is an equality created through inclusivity and it can be as healing and empowering for inexperienced or disadvantaged people as it is for colleagues from a first world family or society. Equality invites contribution. Commitment. Loyalty.

To relax your boundaries and allow someone to shadow you closely, as you run your business or project, provides an invaluable learning experience for them. However, when you are in an unusually vulnerable phase, too stressed or not reconciled to having your imperfections exposed to an audience, empowering this way (through inclusivity and shadowing you) is taxing. Another obstacle to being transparent might be that the independent thought and action, so implicit to being an entrepreneur, or academic or being you, can make it very difficult to trust, expose yourself more, hand over and let go. If this is the case, rather wait, because under these circumstances, your best intentions to empower and include others may turn into very contradictory behavior. Furthermore, your own mental models, beliefs, assumptions and expectations about the way the world, organizations and people work, can result in irritation or disappointment with those you are empowering through your inclusivity. That’s a sure clue to you that your mind needs to reboot. In this instance, peer feedback or coaching can be a powerful way to assist you to step back, separate, think and enjoy the merry pain of self-learning that is fundamental to your own self development.

Empowering others is more about judging people on character and not only on what they know or don’t know, where they come from or other stereotypical biases. The onset of your choice to empower and include others can be guided by:  Do they have integrity? Are they curious? Eager? Open? Do they learn fast? Do they take ownership? Do they have a heart for empowering others too? Also consider whether you can empower people without needing or expecting gratitude and appreciation. Empowerment is about teaching and learning and is no ego trip. Not everyone you empower and train will stay on. Some may leave or opt out prematurely responding to their own unique circumstances or personal dynamics.

The ideal purpose to include and empower is:

  •  To provide an opportunity for others to become familiar with the broader context in which your work happens
  • To provide a frame of reference in which others can locate their ongoing learning
  • To create the opportunity to internalize the culture, values and language of your brand or work
  • To boost their visibility and promote their ability to make intellectual and creative contributions
  • To afford them the opportunity to relax rigid boundaries so that the “real person” steps up and contributes freely to co-creation

Don’t ever underestimate the value and innovation that results from those you include, to contribute uniquely in their spheres of influence, to your business/project. It can free you up or expand your world. Furthermore, when they move on, big picture – they will continue to change the world.

 I’d like to invite you to post your views and comment to this article. 

Madeleine van der Steege

mads@synquity.com

Coming up next:

One Life Changing Chance to Listen

We often have good insight into our situation and more than just an inkling of what to do. Like the well-known example of someone walking down the isle to get married while in their mind they know this is not going to work. The marriage begins with unspoken truths forming the basis.  When the marriage breaks up some time later – they remember knowing that truth. “I knew when I walked down the isle it was not going to work”. Why don’t we listen to ourselves?

Enroll and join us at our life changing workshops http://www.synquity.com/register-for-a-workshop and

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Powerful triggers to unlock latent talent

(Part 2) A True South African Story

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I had one prayer. It was an early morning on my way to my work as HIV-Aids Lay Counselor-Coordinator. The hill in front of me was very steep, and summer time in the Cape is not made for hard walking. From deep within me came the prayer “I want to grow and develop more”. It was an ache inside me that I had ever since I left school. It was a hunger to know more, and to be more than just another Coloured woman with a fractured past, an unfinished education and only legs for transport.

The beginning of the answer to that prayer happened unexpectedly. Through a friend I was invited for an interview at a company. The interview was very informal and unstructured, and I, the candidate, was unprepared. I so clearly remember it. That day would set me on a path of self-discovery and self leadership.

Knowledge is a powerful word. It means “to know”. I began “to know” the amazing worth of my talents as a human being and how much of my world is waiting on me to rise up and deliver. My relationship with my new employer, an entrepreneur – later partner would add another highly prized value that I desperately needed, affirmation. In the world I came from, the one I lived, I was not nurtured – the plight of many women, I know. To be stuck in a culture of day-to-day survival.

Needless to say, I got a job and for the first time in my life worked in an environment where values were highly prized and human capital was viewed as the greatest asset on the books. Process was important, but it was designed around an amazing vision of which the results were a natural consequence.

 The term “give a man a fish…”fails to detail the complex process and support it took for me to shed my “victim mentality” and to see myself as a victor. How empowering it was to me to work in a culture that affirmed me as an individual and for my unique contribution to the bottom line. Because of the value placed upon me, it was inevitable that I then participated in and cared about our results. And yes, working to me became fun – nowhere else did I get to play and produce. In world wherein work can be likened to a production factory, here I was, the amazing creator of my own contributions.

 I began as a kind of informal on-the-job coachee and my employer turned into a wonderful friend and coach. Every terrain in the company was a training ground. My three years there left me with a sense of direction and purpose. I am amazed at how the beliefs I internalized then have shaped the manner in which I have grown and still do.  I went from waiting for something to happen, to knowing that my dreams are waiting on me to make them happen. The most important contribution to my life was the view that the seedbeds of talent are inherent to everyone. I learnt to build my life from a strong vision of my future, which propelled me forward. A conviction was birthed in me that I am more than my circumstances or what life throws at me! How does this happen?

It happens as someone teaches you how to use a computer patiently. It happens when someone recognises you in a meeting, filled with executives, and asks if you would you like to add anything.  It was is as if a finger was placed on the latent potential inside me and whispered “breathe!”. Many doors were opened to me and later opened by me. I have finished my course at Wits Business School. I obtained a car license and bought my own car. I have since then moved on in my career. So what did this empowerment opportunity mean to me? It meant everything to me. It became the catalyst for ongoing growth and the wealth of wisdom I gained has become the foundation of my  career. It has impacted on my family, my children, my friends, my life.  – Marie Sukers 2013.

Powerful triggers to unlock your latent talent

  • Listen and respond to your urge to grow, learn, or do more
  • Develop a powerful meaningful personal vision
  • Reconnect to your incredible worth and potential as a human being
  • Connect with people who affirm you, express faith in your capacity
  • Get out there, exposure yourself to opportunities
  • Stop blaming your situation or making excuses for your passivity
  • Take complete ownership for your career and life

Sneak preview : Why should I pull someone else up ?  (Part 3)

There is an equality created through inclusivity and it can be as healing and empowering for disadvantaged women as it is for those from a first world family or society. To relax your boundaries and allow someone to shadow you closely, as you run your entrepreneurial business, provides an invaluable learning experience for them. However, when you are in an unusually vulnerable phase, too stressed or not reconciled to having your leadership or business imperfections exposed to an audience…

Join our life changing workshops and coaching at http://www.synquity.com

 

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Aside
Open your mind to others to empower

Empowerment is a journey that unfolds as you begin to work more inclusively with others in your business. I wish to suggest two points for your consideration. Firstly, people empowerment is driven by thinking differently about people and, secondly, empowerment comes from relaxing some boundaries so that how you operate, the “real you”, is made strategically visible.

In this sense, empowerment requires a way of thinking that sees the people we live and work with as walking, sleeping, dreaming sources of incredible potential – natural treasures to be unearthed. They have depth and talent not fully known to either you or them. And therein lies a wonderful mystery; in knowing them and in working with them, you are a powerful catalyst. And their growth, in turn, triggers something equal and positive in you. Delight. Innovation. Discovery. Hope. World changing.

An incredible way for entrepreneurs to empower others is through inclusivity. To use an equestrian analogy, it is to stretch your hand and help someone mount the stallion you are already on. Then on your outride, contextualize the scenery and let them witness your reflexes and decisions while you cover familiar and uncharted terrain on the journeytoward achieving specific objectives. Inevitably, vary your trot and finally reach your destination to share the victory of achieving a challenging task. On the journey, remain open to dialogue – for clarifications and questions – but caution against the belief that one-size-fits-all, bearing in mind that absolute answers are often sought when people are learning something completely new and are out of their comfort zones. The idea is to co-learn as fresh perspectives are gained and new scenarios not previously considered are explored. In short, you are being real and you are creating a non-judgmental learning environment where knowledge, skill and creativity can prosper.

During empowerment employees should be safe to risk, be flexible, be curious and invent. In turn, this intensifies into new spirals of learning and co-learning, which can benefit your business tremendously.

Madeleine van der Steege, mads@synquity.com

Sneak preview – (Part 2) Marie’s Story“ I had one prayer. It was an early morning on my way to my work as HIV-Aids Lay Counselor Coordinator. The hill in front of me was very steep, and summer time in the Cape is not made for hard walking. From deep within me came the prayer “I want to grow and develop more”. It was an ache inside me that I had ever since I left school. It was a hunger to know more, and to be more than just another Coloured woman with a fractured past, an unfinished education and only legs for transport. The beginning of the answer to that prayer happened unexpectedly…”

Enroll and join us at our life changing workshops http://www.synquity.com/register-for-a-workshop and please “like” us Facebook to stay up to date or send and email to info@synquity.com

Open your mind to others to empower

 

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