By Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D., author of the 125 books included in Pinpoint Skill Development Training Series

The factors constituting organizational empowerment create a change in the mindset of the organization. Most traditional companies have an established centralized bureaucracy with a strong management rather than leadership mindset. These are different approaches to how an organization is run and ultimately evolves in the face of continual change. When leaders understand the factors that increase empowerment, they are capable of leading their organization's evolution through a series of incremental changes.

Leaders at all levels of an organization have the personal ability to shape the culture, climate and character of their units through their personal vision, desire to produce improved results and the dynamics they create to change and motivate their employees.

Through a leader's personal example and proactive approach to their employees, other leaders are created. As employees are empowered within the organization, their leadership characteristics emerge and are developed. Rather than limit these capabilities, leaders cultivate these individuals until their potential is realized. This is a tremendous responsibility for the individual leader to assume, but a necessity if the organization is to grow and evolve in the face of continuous change.

Leaders at all levels assume the responsibilities of influencing the attitudes, activities and actions of their employees. This is opposed to the role of managers or supervisors who see their role as simply directing the employees under them. In the capacity of an influencer, the leader applies the principles of effective leadership and focuses his or her organizational unit through the use and application of the following factors:

Outcomes

Leaders shape the outputs and outcomes of their organization. Their overall goal is meeting the needs and demands of the customer, whether internal or external. This places an emphasis on results over processes. In other words, the final desired result is concentrated on, and not necessarily the process that produces the result. Within the empowered organization, the process can be radically changed by the involvement of frontline employees to produce a higher-quality outcome in a more efficient and profitable manner.

Groups

Rather than focus on an individual job or task, leaders focus their attention on the collective results and outcomes produced through involvement of the workgroups and teams within their organization. The use and application of effective leadership and motivational methods allows leaders to build and foster strong organizational cohesiveness. This results in increased empowerment, overall accountability and effectiveness.

Ideas

Leaders encourage and stimulate creative thinking within their organizational units to develop new ideas and concepts to improve team outcomes. Rather than enforce old and possibly ineffective ideas, leaders attempt to harness the "native knowledge" of individual employees to increase the productivity of the organizational unit. Rather than looking for things to go wrong and then fixing them, leaders are looking for the things that are working and seeking ways to expand their use through increased testing and experimentation.

Competition

Rather than fear and ignore it, leaders thrive on tough competition. They use the competitive environment they must function within to drive their organization forward by eliminating waste and inefficiency and by focusing the organization on producing a higher-quality product or outcome that can compete more effectively in the marketplace.

Involvement

Leaders are always seeking new ways to motivate and stimulate the involvement of all employees in producing a better product or outcome. The empowered organization increases the employee's ownership and accountability by flattening the decision making process. This allows frontline employees, closest to and best qualified to positively impact the final outcome or product, to make key decisions.

Empowerment

Rather than tightly control the decision making process, leaders are continually looking for new ways to empower individual employees to make the critical decisions that reduce inefficiency and frustration at key points positively impacting the organization's output or product.

Since changes are produced by countless decisions made everyday, rather than slow and complicate the process, empowerment streamlines and makes the entire organization more effective and efficient. Employees do not have to wait for countless and wasteful meetings to make decisions, but can make them "on the fly" to quickly resolve a problem. This allows the organization to move quickly forward, free of needless barriers.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Leaders are proactive rather than reactive. Instead of waiting, they actively seek ways to make things happen. In this regard leaders are dynamic and animated in their interaction with both their superiors and employees rather than inanimate and reactive. The energy and dynamics of their personal behavior creates a sense of excitement and is highly contagious to other members of the organization. This produces positive attitudes and motivation throughout the organization.

Employees as Resources

Leaders hold their employees in high regard and respect their personal abilities, insight and intelligence. In this capacity, they maintain a perspective that treats employees as human resources with something positive to contribute to the organization-not a worker with a job. In this capacity and through the use of such leadership and empowerment principles, the "us vs. them" attitude prevalent in many organizations is eliminated or greatly diminished.

Innovation

When all of the factors constituting an empowered organization are considered, leaders are focusing the members of their organization on improving personal initiative and innovation. This is opposed to simply improving individual employee compliance and conformance to organizational goals and objectives.

When freed of constraints and empowered to actively contribute to produce positive outcomes and results, employees are capable and motivated to meet the challenges presented to them. This advances and improves the overall organization.

Culture

Leaders use all the factors that ultimately constitute an empowered organization to shape its character, culture and climate. Most will discover that the climate they create and shape will assume the characteristics they personally display.