Who in leadership has not wondered what it would take for each person working for them to perform at their best with effortless ease? Why does leading people seem, sometimes, to be so hard? Most leaders are confronted with the dilemma of how to empower those around them to perform at their best?  They are great words – they just don’t know what it takes – either from themselves, their HR department or their managers.

Wikipedia defines empowerment in the following way: “The term empowerment refers to measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. Empowerment as action refers both to the process of self-empowerment and to professional support of people, which enables them to overcome their sense of powerlessness and lack of influence, and to recognize and use their resources.”

It’s not only leaders that worry about this issue – it’s every single person working in business today – who is unfulfilled or constrained to do work that doesn’t play to their interests or their strengths, or requires them to under-play their potential.  Many people feel over-qualified to do the job they do and it’s because they are so talented or experienced that they can end up doing work that they are well skilled to do, but not really interested in.

Some people are less aware than they could be about their innate talents and gifts that then lead them to roles and activities that are less than inspiring or motivating to them.

The solution to this issue begins with the principle that each person has innate talents and gifts that, if allowed to be expressed, would create extraordinary results.

At Corporate Alchemy we address this issue by providing two profiling tools that focus on identifying strengths – The Strengthsfinder  profile developed by Donald Clifton; and the Talent Dynamics Profile which identifies natural talents and the set of strategies that go towards unleashing those talents in ways that build value, trust and leverage for the individual, their team and their organisation.

Alongside the profiles we provide workshops that help teams recognise the strengths of the individuals in the group and to see how by complementary working in their area of talent, they add value to the whole, contributing their gifts. By identifying where and how those strengths and talents can be leveraged, the whole team can create greater opportunities for growth and development, not just for each individual, but for the whole enterprise. Innovation and creative growth of businesses can occur when individuals are allowed to have free reign of their talents and their time.

This is why Google encourages their engineers to spend one day a week working on a project of their choice. This essentially means 20% of their time is free time, in which to pursue their private interests. This has led to outstanding results and new products for Google. In a typical year, more than half of Google’s new offerings are created during this period of pure autonomy – with Google News, Gmail, Google Talk and Google Sky some of them.

For human beings need to continuously grow, to learn new things, to be challenged and to be inspired. In this way it directly links to those innate talents and gifts that they came into the world to express.

Penny Sophocleous