By: Mark Goldstein

As CEO, it is my job to inspire executives and company leaders to empower their people. Sometimes, senior leaders gravitate toward putting employees in a box. Most of them don’t do this intentionally, but if you pigeonhole your people – and put them in that proverbial box – they will be reticent to think outside of it. For these leaders, the best case scenario is complacency. The worst case is that employees will become disengaged. I’ve always striven to create an environment that will motivate, foster creativity and curiosity. I truly believe this approach leads to a strong desire by employees to solve for client issues and come up with new business ideas.

An additional part of the problem is the need by employees to deliver on what they believe their leaders want. Once they’ve figured out this part of the puzzle, they coast. They resist change, and feel threatened by innovation. This is where those frustrating phrases like “because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” have their roots.

Another common issue is that employees try to be perfect, and are always afraid to make mistakes. This squashes creative thinking. The key is to create a mentoring loop; a comfortable environment where people are free to try new things and where they receive constant feedback. Further, senior leaders should be finding ways to harness all of a person’s skillsets and talents, including personality. Something happens to peoples’ brains when they are empowered to thrive—they begin to truly think like an entrepreneur. Part of the mentoring process should be facilitating ways for an employee to tap into talents—and even weaknesses—the employee didn’t know were there.

When I joined EP, I saw an incredibly loyal environment, but one where people were not encouraged to make decisions. Much of my first five years at the company was spent creating a professional culture where people could be free thinking in their jobs and in their relationships with their leaders. I did my best to move the needle. Because EP is 100% employee-owned, confidence in decision making and a desire to solve for client problems is imperative—especially when everyone has some skin in the game.

Mark Goldstein is the President and CEO of EP.