Enabling leaders are key to solving most team problems and helping organisations succeed.

As my recent blogs and Silo Knowledge Pack have explored ( email me for a copy of it), problems in teams can emerge for many reasons. Leaders solve problems in different ways but the most effective long term way is using an Enabling Leadership style.

But what is enabling leadership and how do you apply it?

Here are three key behaviours of enabling leaders.


Enabling leaders use carrot not stick

Recently, I worked with a client who needed to break down some very entrenched silos around using new IT systems. Instead of taking a command and control, “stick” approach, they chose to adopt a gentler manner.

They understood that they were dealing with team members who had always worked in the same place, in the same way, and were suspicious of change. They were deeply out of their comfort zone. Telling and “yelling” at them was not going to drag them out of it. They needed to be enticed and encouraged.

So, this leader chose to take the time to sit down with each individual team member. They began by calmly asserting the way forward, “These are the skills you now need to take the next steps forward. I know that you’ve got some issues mastering them, so I thought we could sit down and go through the process together.”

This time investment paid off.

Team members felt reassured that their concerns had been listened to and that it was acknowledged, from the top, that they were struggling (and not expected to just get on with it). They very clearly knew that this was how things were going to be from now on but told in an enabling and supportive way.


Enabling leaders are structured risk seekers

Enabling leaders are change seekers – they are not risk averse.

They actively look for challenges and are prepared to take risks to implement improvements and improve well-being for all. They like to develop new services, or take over a failing service or a problematic team.

However, their approach to risk taking is structured – not reckless, enabling – not disabling.

Having chosen the risk to take or change to make, they then set about working with people. They make it clear that individuals have a role to play in achieving a shared vision. They give responsibility to managers and leaders who with their teams take the actions to create the new reality.


Enabling leaders inspire change

One of my clients is a leader who has a great approach to enabling positive change.

She says to the staff: “Pitch us an idea, something you’ve been thinking about. We’ll consider it and if we think it is viable and good, we’ll give you the time and resources to implement it.”

It’s a very trusting approach. But it works. It works because it allows an individual to test out an idea, and implement it with no interference from a leader.

This has remarkable success within the organisation and results in a win/win outcome. The organisation’s innovative reputation expands and the individuals grow in confidence, having independently created a commercial product .

Do beware though; I’ve seen organisations use this approach but only go half way. This disables innovation and the desire to change.

It happens when a manager or leader says to a staff member, “I like that idea, here’s some resources and time…However…. You need to speak to this person and make sure you do this and then do that…”

Straight away, these constraints and instructions will limit an individual’s freedom and independent decision making. This is a back track into control. It results in disabling an individual rather than enabling them.

I’ve helped many leaders develop behaviours and approaches which make them Enabling Leaders. Do contact me to talk about your situation or your leaders and how we can create positive results and change.