Your jump sequence for empowerment: The Ritz, the Ellen and the Steve – Part 3 of the blog series: Influencing yourself and others

Some words should definitely be accompanied by a user manual - one of them is the word empowerment. Everyone talks about it, but only a few know how to really achieve it. The research is crystal clear: empowerment leads to healthier, longer living, happier and more effective employees. But how exactly will you empower your Mrs. Jones or your Mr. Smith tomorrow? How, as a leader, can you exercise influence so wisely that the employee feels freer and uses this freedom to the benefit of work?

Have a look at sports. Remember the famous jump sequence in figure skating? The Axel, the Rittberger and the Lutz? Well for empowerment use the Ritz, the Ellen and the Steve to inspire and empower your employees.

The Ritz

The motto of the Ritz Carlton hotel chain is: "We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen". This reflects a great deal of appreciation for their own employees, with a resulting positive effect on their self-confidence. In addition, each employee is empowered with a concrete mass to distribute. 2,000 US Dollar is available to create a wow effect for each customer. In terms of a lifetime customer value of around 250,000 US Dollars, this is not the world, but it does release significant energy in the employees. As a result, you get employees boarding a plane to pick up a forgotten computer. You get hotel engineers building a wooden walkway into the sea within 3 hours so that a handicapped boy can go swimming. And you get a receptionist who – after a broken pipe - not only brings a letter of apology, but also a big chocolate wrench. 

What is your Ritz for Mrs. Jones and Mr. Smith? Appreciate and provide something to distribute, be it money, time or expense. Along the lines of: "If you want to host an event with your staff, we'll find a way to make it happen." "You can do something special for client X within the following parameters", "Any board member would be more than happy to join you for one of your appointments".

The Ritz stands for: Mass motivates

The Ellen

Already in the 70s Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer was seeking to find out what people need to "blossom". Thus, a group of sprightly elderly in a nursing home was given a plant to take care of. In addition, they were given the freedom to structure their daily routine as they wished. The second group adhered to the normal rules of the nursing home regarding food, sleeping hours and other activities, with no “pet plant” to take care of. The plant in the room was watered and fertilized by the nurses - the elderly were allowed to watch.

The result: 18 months later, twice as many elderly from the first group were still alive compared to the second.

What is your Ellen for Mrs Jones and Mr Smith? Autonomy and responsibility. "This is your project - I leave it to you how you want to run it within these parameters." "This is your client - you know best what she needs. You'll only have to consult with me if there are difficulties."

The Ellen means: Autonomy animates.

The Steve

Steve Jobs was famous for his „Reality Distortion Field“. He regularly refused to see things as impossible.

Two examples: On January 16, 1984, the first Macintoshes were to be distributed. One week before that, the software managers admitted that they would not be able to do it, two more weeks were needed to finish writing the code. Steve smiled and said: "You guys have been working on this stuff for months now, another couple weeks isn’t going to make that much of a difference. You may as well get it over with. I’m going to ship the code a week from Monday, with your names on it.” The result: The code writers groaned and got it done.

The second example was the special gorilla glass that Steve Jobs needed for the iPhone. The head of the glass company Corning, Wendell Weeks, explained that he had no capacity to produce the glass within six months - he didn't even have a single factory producing it at the moment. There were also a great many technical problems. To which Steve replied: "Don’t be afraid. Yes, you can do it. Get your mind around it. You can do it." And Weeks still shakes his head at the fact that they actually did it in less than six months.

What is your Steve for Mrs Jones and Mr Smith? Believe in them! And communicate your belief. To do this, you first have to identify something that would be essential for your company, your department, your team, but which does not seem feasible (like almost everything before Corona) and then you say "You can do it! You are an expert; you can do it by the end of August". And then you celebrate - and look for the next vital project.

The Steve stands for: Belief brings brilliance


So go ahead, jump the Ritz, the Ellen and the Steve in front of your Joneses and Smiths and rejoice in the positive results. For additional fortification I recommend you read the biography of Steve Jobs or rewatch the movie “Armageddon”: What can't be done can be done when everyone feels that it is their very own business.

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