Each year, in the weeks that follow The PPAI Expo, I reflect upon what I have learned. While I always gain countless takeaways about the industry, there are also many things that I learn about myself, about teamwork and about leadership.

This year, many of these reflections continue to circle back to the power of empowerment. In my opinion, it’s one of the many things that made this year’s show “The Greatest Show.” While empowering others is not new to me or to PPAI, the empowerment of PPAI employees this year, specifically from a show perspective, was, for lack of better words, elevated and different.

As a leader, relinquishing control – a must when empowering someone else – can be an intricate and challenging process, and one that can be even more difficult when the results those individuals are responsible for are public, like The PPAI Expo. But to truly empower an employee, you need to trust them with responsibilities, be willing to grant them autonomy and foster an environment where they feel safe to make decisions and learn from their experiences.

This year, we entered the show with more people in the right seats than ever before, but that happened to also mean that we had less year-over-year same-role experience than at any other time in my 10-year tenure at PPAI. As a leader in this type of situation, you have to make a call on how much control you are willing to relinquish. The more you relinquish, the more empowered your team will feel, but the more at-risk you will feel. The more trust you have in the person, though, the more you are likely to relinquish control.

Dale Denham and I had, and have, immense trust in our team. This trust is what allowed us to empower these individuals, to give them the room to excel and to provide the industry with “The Greatest Show.”

As I go through the process of reflection, I want to share a few key items that stand out to me about empowering employees:

  • Trust is essential to the foundation of empowerment. In fact, I would say that empowerment without trust is not true empowerment, and the positive results that come from empowerment will not be the same without it.
  • Providing support and resources is important in helping an empowered employee build confidence and in ensuring that they are equipped to make effective decisions.
  • Accountability is key in building on empowerment. While it is important to trust your team to make the right decisions, it is equally important to hold them accountable for the outcomes.

Empowered employees feel more comfortable in expressing their ideas and taking initiative, resulting in increased innovation and creativity.
There is a transformative effect that occurs when people see their colleagues empowered, and it fosters a positive culture in which people feel valued and motivated to excel.

As I continue to grow, not just as a leader but as a human, I’m reminded that we don’t just lead at work – we also have the opportunity to impact our peers in the industry and people in our personal lives. This also means that we have the opportunity to find ways to empower people outside of work. After all, it’s about giving others the opportunity to grow, to contribute and to thrive.

Tucker is PPAI’s vice president of revenue and expositions.