When we empower people, we grow with them, and when we push people down, we go down with the team (John Maxwell, 2002). Only secure leaders delegate power to their team. Insecure leaders do not empower others. When leaders fear delegating and mentoring, they can damage employee morale and customer loyalty.
In my Business Foundations course this semester, Fall 2021, I looked with my students at the effect that delegating has on customer service. I told the following story.
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a vegetarian pizza from a well-known pizza chain for my wife’s birthday – it’s her favorite. It was my first time using the pizza chain’s app to order from my local franchise.
When we picked up the pizza and began eating, we realized that it was pepperoni! I went back to the store, and the server at the counter showed me that I had in fact ordered a pepperoni pizza on the app instead of a vegetarian one. The server told me not to worry; she asked me to wait for a few minutes while she made a vegetarian pizza for free.
This was absolutely an example of employee empowerment. The server did not have to check with a supervisor or the manager of the store; instead, she made her own decision. It would not have been possible if she did not have the authority to resolve mistakes, even those made by a customer. The result is that I am now a satisfied, and more loyal, customer who will continue ordering from this franchise.
Teaching, like business, is part science and part art. Evidence-based theory informs approaches to business problems. Individual experiences bring business theory to life in ways that increase engagement.
The simple story of employee empowerment at the pizza parlor helps to clarify the important idea that delegation impacts business outcomes. Employee autonomy within the stated principles of the company (making great pizzas) translates to business success. Empowered employees are motivated to own their responsibilities.
It is similar to teaching. Empowered students, whose vision finds expression in the classroom are motivated to take responsibility for their own role in their education. They become participants in the educational process, not merely passive receivers of information. Students in my Business Foundations course immediately began to relate their own experiences about delegated authority and its impact in their lives. These students are already leaders. They understand how the vision they have for their careers relies in part on developing the security it takes to build a team.
And maybe how to properly order a vegetarian pizza.
By Uday Kumar Ghosh
Lecturer in Business Administration