Empowered: to make strong and more confident.

Kathy West - Manager


“An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.” Stephen Covey

I had always thought that empowerment was a “scary” word. If someone were to empower you they would be giving you power and responsibility but to me this meant: “Here you are, you are now responsible and I am not. I take my hands off, so just do it / get it done”. If this was being empowered, I didn’t want it; you would be alone, on your own, not working as part of a team and this would be a scary place to be. Being fearful is the opposite of being empowered.

When you are empowered you are enabled to make strong confident decisions based on [in all probability] the training you’ve received from the one[s] empowering you. You have the authority to make decisions independently, but you become an extension of the organization’s leadership, magnifying and multiplying their lead. You do not become an isolated stand-alone decision maker.

Leadership fulfills their role as part of the team too – this doesn’t mean doing all the work, and not just delegating or dictating but providing what is needed for empowerment of the entire team. There is trust required in the one being empowered but when there is empowerment the team becomes better, stronger.

To empower is to:

  • Provide support and guidance that enables the person you are empowering to meet goals
  • Provide necessary experiences to develop necessary skills
  • Not simply “give power” or say “just do it”
  • Provide a safe environment – to learn and succeed
  • Provide coaching of new skills
  • Provide opportunities for confidence building, in areas the one being empowered can and will succeed at
  • Give permission / authority within reasonable boundaries that will increase overtime but not be given all at once
  • Provide resources such as: time, training, budget, equipment, and personnel for success
  • Provide needed information and/or access to information [answers to questions, files, background information, etc.]
  • Define a clear path [especially in a smaller environment when everyone has to “pitch in”, possibly outside of their job descriptions. They need to know what the goal is to make the best decisions.
  • Challenge but within reasonable comfort zones – to push enough to develop new skill[s] but not so much that the one being empowered will always fail or miss the mark
  • Provide the answer to: “Did I do well?” without being asked. To define what the valuation is. To provide positive feedback, defining/confirming your definition of success

Let them shine at what they are good at and they will shine!

The result of being empowered is to:

  • Have increased confidence and positive self esteem
  • Know you have the support and guidance to meet your goals
  • Be the recipient of motivation – whatever form it takes [not necessarily “carrots”]
  • Feel safe and not exposed or isolated
  • Have increased confidence in your ability – to know where you add value so you can be more fluid and at ease using your skills. Know “I can” accomplish what is asked – not fearful of failure
  • Have a sense of connectedness, knowing how others assist / support and their roles. Not feeling alone or it’s “all on me”. Know you will/do have support.
  • Have the ability to make decisions, within reasonable parameters – knowing with clarity what the parameters are – parameters being defined or redefined when they change
  • Have access to information – it’s not possible to make empowered decisions without the necessary information – this information might be the answer to a simple question, access to a file, or additional background information

Do you work in an empowering organization? Are you empowered? Are you empowering of others? What can you do to improve empowerment for your organization?