The impact of today’s society
In today’s world, we live with a great deal of uncertainty, things are constantly changing. This is the so-called VUCA (that is, volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) world that we now live in. The impact of living, and indeed working, in this ever-moving landscape is that it can lead to stress, decision-fatigue and fear.
I feel this myself when I spend time on my laptop working into the night, instead of finding time for me and my family, or when I take on tactical jobs that I should be encouraging others to take over. I hear myself saying, “just one more email” when I should be doing other things. And I see it in my clients too, who are concerned about the impact of not being seen to work hard enough or long enough, unable to say no or to ask for help, even when they are overloaded.
People tend to spend much of their time trying to address this by looking to their external environment – changing their circumstances, leaving the stressful job, trying to minimize time on social media, berating themselves when they fail, taking on more and more tasks in order to “fix” the problem.
As leaders, this can often show up as telling people what to do or taking on actions that aren’t theirs to do, because it seems easier than spending time on empowering others to find the answers for themselves.
All this can lead us to put ourselves in the role of being a victim, feeling like we aren’t able to change our circumstances or move forward. Yet more often than not, this just keeps us where we already are!
How then do we flourish in a VUCA world?
In my experience, one of the most powerful ways to help a client or a team member to move to more empowered place is to help them to become more aware to themselves and to grow in self-knowledge. In doing this, they are turning their attention to their internal world and addressing issues from the inside out rather than looking for answers from without.
When I was a newly trained coach, I remember telling people that sometimes people leave their jobs as a result of coaching, and realizing they are in the wrong place. This can still happen, but more often than not, I now find that when someone becomes more aware of their thoughts and emotions, they become more able to handle the outside world they already reside in more empowered way.
Coaching and Empowerment
“Empowerment”, much like “coaching”, is a word that is often misunderstood and misused. Empowerment is not something that can be given by others, rather others can help to create the environment and conditions for it to exist.
One really good way to achieve this is through coaching, whether it be formal sessions or just taking the time to stop what you are doing, listen to the other person and ask some powerful questions that can help them to resolve the issue.
When we are willing as coaches and leaders to build a culture of allowing our clients/team members to take more responsibility, when we are willing to listen to them and help then become accountable for their own actions rather than leading them by the hand and stepping in with the answers, then we can help them to become truly empowered.