Successful empowerment is a must in any organization. Of course, leaders don’t have time to do everything themselves, but those who fail to empower their people pay a price in costly project dealays, budget over-runs, crew turnover, or worse. 

To be clear, empowering employees is simply giving them the authority to do something. Sounds easy, but it’s not. Empowering them properly takes time and a focused, intentional effort. 

However, the benefits of successfully empowering others are clear: Employees become more productive because decisions can be made quickly. 

  • They feel more engaged and included, resulting in less staff turnover. 
  • Leaders build trust, confidence, and independence as they nurture a culture of shared responsibility.
  • Empowerment is used to educate and nurture future leaders.
  • Leaders can demonstrate their ability to lead well and attract the best employees.

It’s no secret: The number one key to empowering others is being a leader who takes responsibility to teach, train, coach, and mentor their people in advance of empowering them. 

But what happens most often? Many leaders get too busy to train their people properly, or they are short on staff, so they rush through implementing this important step. In some high-profile cases, attempts to empower staff didn’t go well at all. (Research case studies for Starbucks, United Airlines, California Power and Gas, and others.) The important lesson from these cases is this: A leader can delegate responsibility but not accountability.


How can leaders accelerate the empowerment of their employees? Begin with role-playing and inclusion.


For many organizations, role playing is underused, yet it is by far the most cost-effective and efficient way to get employees ready for empowerment. Unfortunately, people tend to feel uncomfortable role-playing realistic situations. A recent poll I conducted indicated 17% of the respondents “hated” role playing and never do it; 10% “loved” role playing and did it often; the rest indicated they “didn’t like” role playing and only did it because they had to. 

If a team is averse to role playing, then don’t call it that! Instead, call it professional development practice in a training-room environment where they can safely make mistakes instead of on the job. 

Select realistic situations to role play; ask what went well and what could be improved.


This means including the people being developed in situations they wouldn’t normally be involved in. 

As part of their preparation to be empowered, include employees in conversations with a customer about, for example, a scope change. Or include them at the table during a senior management meeting. They wouldn’t be expected to contribute, but they would learn to deal with issues by observing. Through this process, engage your workforce and listen, then provide constructive feedback for success. 


In order to teach, train, coach, or mentor people, leaders should find ways to prepare someone to be empowered. Actively participating in role playing and inclusion is a good start. 

About the Coach:

As a leadership development expert, Randy Goruk works with construction industry leaders to improve employee engagement and business growth. Contact Randy directly to learn how he can help you and your team:

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Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2022
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