Caleb Roose

Leadership Coach

Caleb Roose

Caleb Roose (MDiv) has been coaching leaders for over 5 years—empowering his clients to maximize their potential, lead innovation, and navigate adaptive change and organizational transitions. Caleb has worked in diverse fields and leadership roles and is passionate about fatherhood, parenting, and helping leaders find work-life rhythms that fit leaders’ unique lives and values. To learn more or to sign up for a free 30-minute coaching call, email to see how coaching can empower you to reach your personal and professional goals—faster.

How to (actually) empower your team

Every good leader believes in empowerment—like they believe in loving others well, standing for what is right, and making a difference in the world.

The issue is that there’s often a gap between what we believe and what we actually do.

For example, while I am a firm believer in empowerment—and have successfully coached dozens of leaders to become more empowering—I find this doesn’t always correlate to how well I personally empower others in my own leadership. Whether it’s because I’m worried about the outcome of an initiative, I haven’t provided enough support, or I’m simply unaware of my team’s feelings, being an empowering leader is often easier said than done. And from my experience coaching others, I know I’m not alone. The good news is, there are steps we can each take to become the empowering leaders we desire to be.

3 pivotal steps to becoming a more empowering leader

Step 1) Build awareness

Becoming a more empowering leader begins with awareness—awareness of what empowerment is, whether or not your team actually feels empowered, and of your personal empowerment pitfalls.

A) First, what is empowerment? Empowerment is a combination of what you do as a leader and what your team feels. On the one hand, to be an empowering leader, you need to provide your team with enough training, information, and autonomy to make informed decisions that benefit your team and organization. 

On the other hand, you need to offer enough encouragement, support, and recognition so they truly feel empowered. This combination of equipping and encouraging is at the heart of empowerment and leads to a more empowered team.

B) Next, increase your awareness of whether your team truly feels empowered. Simply believing you’re an empowering leader is not enough because there is often a gap between leaders’ espoused theories (i.e., what they think they do) and their theories-in-use (i.e., what they actually do). For example, when it comes to empowerment, my espoused theory may be, “I empower others,” while my theory-in-use may actually be, “I need to maintain control to ensure everything turns out right.” The only way I can become more aware of the distance between my espoused theory and my theory-in-use is through the perspectives of others. To find out how empowered your team is, here are three questions you can use in your next one-on-ones or employee culture surveys (Note: There needs to be a baseline level of trust in your relationships for you to receive honest answers):

  • On a scale of 1–5 (with 1 being very disempowered and 5 being very empowered), how empowered do you feel in your role right now?
  • What would need to change for your answer to move up one whole number on this scale?
  • If you were fully empowered, how might that benefit our team and organization?

It’s important to take what you hear to heart. Don’t argue with your team’s responses. Rather, see them as data points that will help you discern areas in which both you and your team can grow, which takes us to the next point.

C) To grow in empowerment, you need to understand your personal empowerment pitfalls. After receiving others’ perspectives, take time to reflect on your leadership experiences, considering the different angles you’re now aware of. Afterall, leaders “do not learn from experience…. We learn from reflecting on experience.” Through reflecting on my leadership experiences and others’ perspectives, I’ve learned that I excel at empowering others when we’re not under the gun of time and I’m confident my team has what it needs to succeed. Yet I can slip into more disempowering behaviors when I’m stressed about meeting deadlines and team goals or if I think the outcome of the work might reflect negatively on me as a leader. By understanding what empowerment is, soliciting the perspectives of others, and reflecting on your leadership experiences, you can identify your pitfalls and growing edges, as well.

Step 2) Take action
Building awareness makes a major impact when you take action on it. Based on your listening, learning, and increased awareness from Step 1, you’re now in a position to take steps toward becoming a more empowering leader who leads a more fully empowered team. For example:
  • If you’re learning that your team (or select team members) feel under equipped -> Invest in professional development.
  • If you’re hearing you’re not providing team members with enough authority to make decisions -> Find areas in which they can make decisions without your input (that carry appropriate levels of risk to the organization with respect to their roles and scopes of leadership).
  • If a team member has enough training, information, and autonomy to make decisions but lacks confidence -> Encourage this leader with positive and specific feedback.
  • If you struggle with letting go of control -> Hire a leadership coach to partner with you so you become the fully empowering leader you desire to be.

Taking action on your awareness and learning will ensure you and your team maximize your individual and collective potential.

Step 3) Repeat

Becoming an empowering leader isn’t a one-time endeavor. It’s an ongoing journey of learning and growth, which means the first two steps of awareness and action aren’t linear—they’re cyclical.


By continually building awareness and taking action, you, your team, and your organization will live more fully into your values and together achieve results you never could have before.


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