First published in The Border Mail on 15-06-20
Every individual on this planet has the capacity to improve and grow. How many of us believe that? How many of us actually know that its true? Heliotropic effect is the natural search for light. It means that every living thing has the tendency to incline towards light and away from darkness. Thus, every individual wants to grow based on their natural tendency or attraction towards a life-giving source. This life-giving source can be a leader, a teacher, a parent, a friend or a mentor. Someone who is positive and influences the individual with their optimism. Therefore, initiating an optimistic approach towards learning and growth. The first step towards self-empowerment is the realization that one can improve.
Empowerment is autonomy and self-determination. It is a simple belief - ‘if you believe, you can’. It sprouts from a sense of self-worth or vice versa. There are four dimensions of empowerment that are a sense of meaning, competence, self-determination and impact. Meaning is finding purpose. Competence is confidence in one’s abilities and skills. Self-determination is the power or autonomy to take proactive action towards one’s work or goals. Impact is the positive influence that one creates in his/her surroundings. Your purpose may vary depending on the industry you work in. A teacher’s purpose may be to create responsible citizens. An engineer’s purpose may be to innovate. A lawyer’s purpose may be to get justice for the supressed. A politician’s purpose may be economic development. Finding the purpose is the key to one’s empowerment.
You may be a leader in your field of work - a transformational or change leader who is empowered. The first step towards creating a change is empowering the ones you lead. Create a vision and share it with your team. Inspire them to get involved. You will only be able to influence them if you have a strong relationship with them based on trust. They will become autonomous if you provide them a safe environment to thrive. A place where they are comfortable to express their fears. Create positive peer pressure to push them out of their comfort zones.
We don’t grow unless we stretch ourselves. But we only initially take risks under guidance. Under someone who we can trust, who will pull us back up if we fail. Such are the leader who create sustainable progress through positive change. They work coherently in a system of openness and trust, supplemented by control and guidance.
You are not empowered unless you are nudged out of your comfort zone. Transformational leaders are empowered. They have stretched themselves and experienced change. As they have risen above and transformed themselves, they believe that others can do too. They see potential in others. They lead by example. Their transformation inspires the ones they lead to transform themselves.
Stats indicate that 20 % to 30% variance in performance of an organisation is subject to leadership. This includes strategy, culture, process and incentive system. This system is propagated or devised by the leader. But even if you have all of that in place and you are led by a nincompoop boss, it’s not going to work. Therefore, Leaders help organisations flourish.
Mostly the administration or the system leaders are seen as blockers rather than supporters. They create policy and bureaucracy. They take away the freedom by super imposing rules and compliance. What if they empowered their work force? The dynamics would flip then. Empowerment calls for autonomy which would come through mutual trust. This would initiate proactiveness towards a common gaol inspired by the leader’s vision. It would eventually lead to attaining a level of competence that would result in a positive productive impact. But it is only possible under the guidance of an optimistic, thrust worthy, compassionate, virtuous and charitable director.
Demonstration of positive emotions, compassionate support and virtuous practices lead to better heart rhythm and brain waves. Focus on positive possibilities by leaders unleash potential in their workers by eight times as proven by research. A leader with positive vibes can create the heliotropic effect for his team.
A study published in Emotion in 2014 found that acknowledging people’s contributions lead to stronger relationships, in turn creating new opportunities. Gratitude improves health according to a 2012 study in Personality and Individual Differences. There are multiple studies that prove that optimism and gratefulness lead to higher mental acuity – better test results, improved and accurate memory and better cognition.
In short, an empowered transformational leader who empowers his team by means of optimism and gratitude increases the overall productivity of an organisation. In process, he nurtures the potential of several individuals propagating high self-esteem, contributing towards a better society by cultivating passionate, autonomous and virtuous future leaders.
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