The Real Meaning of Empowerment
Empowerment is such a buzzword. Overly used and often misused. However, it is a word that I truly believe in and I think should be embraced by every leader. Your team’s success depends on it.
So let me start by shedding some light on what it is not.
Empowerment is not simply Responsibility.
Many of us have made the mistake to think that since i gave someone something to do that they have been empowered. No, not at all. For example, telling John that he is in charge of Project X is not in itself very empowering. If anything, it is overpowering and we all know how that saying goes…”With great power, come great responsibility.” If you only give someone responsibility, you have essentially given them a burden. You will have set them up for failure and a time of stress.
To empower someone there are two other things that are needed:
1) Clear Vision
As a leader, it is important that you not only share your expectations and outcomes but communicate your why’s to your team leaders. If you want them to be empowered, they have to know understand the value of their responsibility and the impact they will have on the end result.
I have been known to say, never give responsibility without authority. It is folly of a leader to say to someone that they are responsible for something but then they refuse to move out of the way to have that person exercise their authority. When you have empowered someone, you pain the picture and then you trust that they are equipped and fully resourced to use their own gifts to make the dream a reality. You don’t map out the plan for them, but you ask thoughtful questions and give them time and grace.
Clear vision + Authority + Responsibility = Empowerment.
In other words you are saying,
“You know, I would really love for ___________ because _________ and you know what, I believe that you are the perfect person to make this happen. So let me know what it is you need and I will try my hardest to get it. How do you think we should proceed?”