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Encouraging Autonomy

10 key stages to develop your Leadership & Business Road Map 

Imagine a workplace where individuals know what their individual objectives and responsibilities are and how they fit into the overall company vision / goal; where people are motivated and engaged to take ownership and achieve those objectives and bring their best selves to work, and where they confidently and competently solve problems, make decisions and feel able to take responsibility for their mistakes - and learn from them. 

Well, this week delegates on our LEAD™ program for senior leaders will be looking at how they can build such a culture in their workplaces in their next masterclass - ‘Creating the Environment for High Performance’.   

One of the key elements we will be discussing is how they can encourage a sense of autonomy in the workplace, which Daniel Pink highlighted as one of the main components for human motivation in his book ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth about what motivates us’. 

Autonomy essentially means giving employees the freedom to work in a way that suits them. That doesn’t mean that people can just do what they want, when they want, as leaders / managers need to ensure that there are clear boundaries, the appropriate amount of direction and support, and genuine accountability for achieving goals and objectives.   

Here are our 10 tips for encouraging autonomy in your workplace

1. Build Trust 

Trust underpins good working relationships. The more that someone trusts a colleague, team leader or manager, the more likely they are to listen to that person, share information with them and work effectively together. 

2. Communicate clearly 

Your team needs to understand what the organisation is striving to achieve so share the company mission, vision and purpose.  

3. Agree shared goals 

Once team members understand what the organisation is trying to achieve, you can then agree goals which are linked to the overall business objectives. When individuals feel that their work matters and they can see how they are contributing to the bigger picture they are even more effective. 

4. Give people the tools they need 

Agree what needs to be accomplished and don't 'micro-manage' where an individual has the necessary ability, confidence and experience to apply their own judgement to complete the task. On the other hand, where an individual has no or limited experience of the particular task, they will need more direction about how to approach the task and support to build confidence and ability. 

5. Focus on outcome, not process 

Agree the desired results. This includes setting clear expectations about the outcome and how success will be measured, and then focus on what, not how, and on results, not approach, which will allow people the flexibility to use their skill, experience, creativity and enthusiasm to achieve agreed goals. 

6. Allow people to make decisions 

Leaders should ensure, where possible, decision making is distributed throughout the organisation to the lowest possible level. Meaning that decisions are made by the person who is best placed to do so. Your employees will inevitably be the ones who are closest to your customers, your processes and your products or services, which means they are usually the people with the right information to make the best decision. 

7. Share feedback 

Giving feedback allows us to discuss areas where performance needs to be improved and identify actions that will help them to achieve their agreed objectives. Team members will then be able to adjust their approach if necessary and access additional help and support as needed.  

8. Acknowledge and recognise good performance 

By recognising your staff, you can increase morale, productivity, engagement and retention. Recognition should be sincere and genuine – a simple thank you can go a long way. But don’t confuse recognition with reward. 

9. Encourage learning and development 

Leaders need to encourage curiosity and an open mindset in employees, nurturing critical thinking and decision making, and rewarding continuous learning.  

10. Lead by example 

In turn, as leaders we should be leading by example and seeking out opportunities to learn and develop ourselves. 


Here are the 10 tips for encouraging autonomy in your workplace as a handy download you can share with your team.

Click here to download it for free



If you'd like to read more about our leadership and business development program, LEAD™, you can click here for more information. Our next program starts on 23rd and 24th April so if you'd like join it or understand more about it, please get in touch here.



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