Hallelujah for Empowered Employees

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Good leaders lead by developing everyday leaders on their team. Getting employees to accept ownership, become accountable, and take responsibility are the cornerstones for creating an empowered and engaged workplace.

In Hallelujah! An Anthem for Purposeful Work, we’ve outlined these key principles for developing a team of employees who are empowered and engaged in purposeful work.

  • Stop thinking Chain of Command. Start thinking Chain of Purpose. Your corporate strategy should be driven by purpose, not control. Command is top-down and driven by hierarchy and rules; purpose is inside-out and driven by values and commitment. Control is constraining; purpose is enabling.
  • Job descriptions limit employees rather than empower them. Change job descriptions to be more purpose- and mission-driven. For example, you might add “in-house consultant” or “peer coach” to job descriptions.
  • People become champions when they work with you, not for you. Focus on the mission, not power and control. Never forget: You achieve results through the efforts of others.
  • Best practices are found with practice. If something isn’t working, adjust—or try something completely different. The Why should not change, even if the What and How might. Announce changes as incremental improvements towards achieving the Why.
  • Delegate more. Enable your people to own the mission. Listen for clues about what should be delegated to whom and then provide coaching support.
  • When the What and the How are executed with craftsmanship, pride, and uncompromising quality, reward their executors, and remind them Why they are important and their work is important. Great workers do well at the What and How because of the Why, and the positive cycle goes round and round.
  • Even congregants in the same church, synagogue, or mosque may disagree about How to achieve the Why. Honest disagreements may be uncomfortable, but they may also be necessary. What isn’t necessary is attributing evil intent to those who may not share your view.
  • “Because we’ve always done it that way” is a poor rationale for a policy. Revisit every policy two years old or older. If it helps you achieve your mission and empowers people to do good work, keep it. If it suppresses creativity and impedes your mission, delete it. If it’s somewhere in between, re-write it. Your old S.O.P.—Standard Operating Procedure—is now a different S.O.P.—Standard Operating Purpose.
  • Your customer is the personification of the Why. To do good work and exceed your customer’s expectations is not only to serve the purpose of your work—it’s also a good way to provide job security.
  • If your customers are cynical about your customer service, don’t attack the customer. Attack the reason for their cynicism—and get serious about it. In the process of addressing the customer’s cynicism, you change your company from people who don’t care to people who get involved and care about solving problems and improving their work.

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