Empowerment is built on trust and a healthy relationship cultivated between leaders and their direct reports. With empowerment comes an obligation to call out troubling situations that have gone ignored. This is most difficult for leaders who greatly care about the person, but that's when it is most critical. How much trust can there really be if something obvious is being avoided?
When providing feedback, these steps should help the leader:
• Take accountability for actions;
• Describe the situation and behaviors;
• Assign accountability to the direct report for identifying and implementing a solution.
For example: "I have to tell you, I feel guilty for not having brought up this issue sooner, but I have so much respect for you, I need to share with you something I should have said a long time ago. I'm concerned you are losing credibility when you are unprepared for client sessions and not meeting deadlines. I'm confident you would never do anything to intentionally harm your credibility or ours. What do you think you can do to turn the situation around?"
Empowered direct reports know when and how they have fallen short of expectations so they can feel the success of implementing a solution.