The Power of Empowerment

by Nathan Mersereau

Empowerment.

It’s a buzzword that gets tossed around a lot in today’s business world but what does it really mean in practice? Merriam-Webster defines the term as “the granting of the power, right, or authority to do something.”

While leaders often talk about empowerment, many don’t fully put their money where their mouth is when dealing with employees and clients.

At Planning Alternatives, we try not to overuse the phrase “empowering others,” but it is the mindset that guides our actions. Here’s some insight around how you can gain an edge by making empowerment a driving principle:

Empowering Employees

Empowering an employee means they have the insight, ability, and permission to do what’s best for the customer and they feel free to pursue initiatives that are in line with the company mission and values. Your employees are at the grassroots level of running your business. As much as possible, delegate authority and encourage smart risk-taking. When team members are equipped to solve problems and make judgment calls without constantly asking for permission, they’ll be happier, more fulfilled and more engaged.

The reality is that, at times, there will be mistakes. That’s OK. The short-term hiccups that can occur will lead to long-term personal and organizational benefits. Why? Because when employees experience setbacks, they learn and evolve. They stretch their critical thinking skills and problem-solving prowess and ultimately become wiser, more valuable contributors.

Yes, there’s some degree of risk in stepping back and letting employees experiment and make their own (informed) decisions. But I’d argue there’s risk infrequently making employees — and by extension clients — wait around for a supervisor to weigh in and give his or her blessing on an idea. Micromanagement leads to demotivation; empowerment fuels greater confidence and competence.

Empowering Clients

“Empowering you to live the life you value” is our organization’s mission statement. We live it and breathe it. Most financial companies focus on the product they want to sell and the shareholders of the parent company they need to please. Planning Alternatives is different. We operate exclusively as a fiduciary — meaning that we are legally required to act in our clients’ best interest.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the job is receiving feedback from clients expressing gratitude for our assistance. But it’s never a straight line helping someone reach their goal – it’s rooted in the process we walk each client through in building and managing their personal wealth plan. It’s a plan anchored in what the client envisions for their future, thoughtful conversation around their options, decisions on directions to take and regular reviews of the progress.

The bottom line is that you can’t help empower people to achieve their dreams if you don’t invest time and energy into getting to know them and mapping out a support plan.

Empowering Our Community

Planning Alternatives is also committed to empowering our community through thoughtful dialogue. That’s why we are sponsoring two exciting events:

“Money: Is It Black or White?” We hosted a roundtable panel discussion with business owners and professionals who have a vested interest in the Detroit community. The event was designed to be a conversation starter about the steps individuals can take to further empower themselves through financial education, planning and collaboration with a team of financial professionals. We look forward to using the discussion as a springboard to develop a financial empowerment curriculum for 2019. The “Money: Is It Black or White?” event took place Wednesday, October 13, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. at the Detroit Historical Museum in Detroit. Check out details here.

“Ceiling Crashers” This inspiring women’s empowerment event will provide an opportunity to hear from highly accomplished professional women who’ve risen to great heights and overcome career obstacles while balancing competing demands in their personal lives. Guest panelists include Alexis Glick, CEO, GenYouth; Amada Crager, Director of Global Talent Integration, lululemon; and Rumia Ambrose-Burbank, President, VMS365. There will also be plenty of time for event networking starting at 7:30 a.m. on October 25, 2018, at The Townsend Hotel. Learn more by visiting www.ceilingcrashers.com.

What’s your next empowerment step? Please let me know. I’d love to hear.