LEADERSHIP AND EMPOWERMENT
LEADERSHIP AND EMPOWERMENT
During last two lectures we tried to understand the concept of power and its
relationship with the
process of leadership. In this lecture we will try to understand the concepts of
empowerment and its
relationship with leadership.
What is Empowerment?
Empowerments is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to
think, behave, take action, and
control work and decision making in autonomous ways. It is the state of feeling
self-empowered to take
control of one's own destiny. OR Empowerment is a social action process that
promotes participation of
people, organizations, and communities towards the goals of increase individual
control, political efficacy, improved quality of community life and social
justice.” (Wallerstein, 1992)
Some other definitions/facts about empowerment are:
_ It is a management approach
designed to give frontline employees the authority they need to do
what needs to be done without having to ask/check with management.
_ In spite of the entire
favorable buzz, there is little hard evidence that it has really made much
difference in routine organizational life.
_ The concepts of encouraging
and authorizing workers to take the initiative to improve operations,
reduce costs, and improve product quality and customer service.
_ Some empowerment does exist
and, when accompanied by accountability and appropriate
guidance, it can lead to increased employee and customer satisfaction.
_ Significant employee
empowerment is rare, and it is not easy to initiate or maintain.
What are some of the Common Myths about Empowerment?
• Everybody’s doing it.
• It’s easy.
• Every manager wants empowered employees.
• Every employee wants to be empowered.
• All the manager needs to do is leave the empowered employees alone.
The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps
foster the ability and
desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the
responsibility to remove
barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways. Because every
empowerment and every manager/leader wants empowered employees.
Always keep in your mind “Empower your employees”- The most important asset in
Empowered personnel have "responsibility, a sense of ownership, satisfaction in
power over what and how things are done, recognition for their ideas, and the
knowledge that they are
important to the organization" (Turney 1993: 30). Without productive employees,
the organization is
nothing and can do nothing. Empowerment works the best when employees need their
much as the organization needs them, "and the need is much more than a paycheck
package" (Johnson, 1993: 47).
Why Important? Powerlessness
• Living in poverty
• Relatively low in hierarchy
• Chronic Stress
• Lack of Social Support
• Income Inequities
• Racial Discrimination
Lack of Control Over
What is Empowerment, and How Can Empower Others?
_ The power keys to
empowerment: there are two views about power keys to empowerment;
1. Traditional view: in traditional view power is relational in terms of
2. Empowerment view: In empowerment view, the emphasis is on the ability
to make things
happen. Power is relational in terms of problems and opportunities, not
_ \Power as an expanding pie:
With empowerment, employees must be trained to expand their
power and their new influence potential. Empowerment changes the dynamics
supervisors and subordinates.
_ Ways to Expand Power:
there are different ways to expand power;
1. Clearly define roles and responsibilities to the employees.
2. Provide opportunities for creative problem solving coupled with the
discretion to act. This
is the responsibility of top management.
3. Emphasize different ways of exercising influence to make sure that every
thing is going on
4. Provide support and help to individuals so they become comfortable with
5. Expand inducements for thinking and acting, not just obeying.
Effectiveness and Capacity
Empowering to members
Bridging social capital
“At the organizational level, OE [organizational empowerment] refers to
organizational efforts that
generate PE [personal empowerment] among members and organizational
effectiveness needed for goal
• Provide opportunities for staff to be
involved in organizational decision-making, program
development, and evaluation.
• Reduce organization hierarchies and
supervisory structure so that workers have more control over
• Encourage professional development and
team-building among staff.
• Provide resources that facilitate the
development of political power among people.
• Regard workers as partners rather than
What Is the Bottom line?
_ Appropriate employee
empowerment is essential to organizational success.
_ Everyone claims to empower
employees, but this is easier said than done.
_ A failed organizational
empowerment initiative is at best a waste of time.
Power sharing and Empowerment:
Power sharing: The delegation of power or authority to subordinates in the
wrong with this concept? Most of the times, after sharing of power or authority,
people think that,
employee misuse it and their influence on employee will reduce consequently.
Empowerment: being enabled to make independent decisions and take
Guidelines for effective employee empowerment:
• Select the right managers.
• Choose the right employees.
• Provide training.
• Offer guidance.
• Hold everyone accountable.
• Build trust.
• Focus on relationships.
• Stress organizational values.
• Transform mistakes into opportunities.
• Reward and recognize.
• Share authority instead of giving it up.
• Encourage dissent.
• Give it time.
• Accept increased turnover.
• Share information.
• Realize that empowerment has its
• Involve employees in decision-making.
Chose the Right Managers for proper empowerment:
• Select leaders who are already
empowering their colleagues routinely.
• Confront dictatorial leaders.
• Give them a fair chance to change, but
make it clear that their odds of success are not good.
• Call attention to leaders who are doing
it right, and encourage young leaders to select them as
Select the Right Employees:
• Identify those people already taking the
• Explain the risks and benefits of
empowerment, and then wait for those who want to stretch to step
• Share information openly, and then
identify those with good instincts, confidence and the
willingness to take risks.
Provide Adequate Training:
• Identify the most common challenges
they will face.
• Demonstrate attitudes and behaviors most
likely to be successful.
• Point out that nothing works every time.
• Celebrate every incremental improvement;
perfection is in short supply.
• Enlist them as trainers ASAP.
• Begin by asking what information is
• Encourage everyone to contribute to the
• Except for personal stuff, avoid
• Demonstrate openness.
• Invite questions and challenges.
• Change your position readily when new
information demands reconsideration.
Hold Everyone Accountable:
• Authority without accountability
• Every little bit of power is seductive.
• Find out what happened.
• Ask why it happened?
• Inquire whether, on looking back, a
better option might have been employed.
• Let the emotion of the moment pass.
• View mistakes as opportunities to grow
Leadership and Empowerment: Empowerment involves sharing or giving power
or influence to
another. It is the process through which leaders enable and help others to gain
power and achieve
influence within the organization. When employees feel powerful they are more
willing to make
decisions and take action.
How Leaders Can Empower Others
• A leader can involve others in
selecting their work assignments and tasks
• He creates an environment of
cooperation, information sharing, discussions, and shared ownership
• He encourages others to take initiative,
make decisions, and use their knowledge.
• He finds out what others think and let
them help design solutions.
• Leader can give others the freedom to
put their ideas and solutions into practice.
• He recognizes successes and encourages
Participative leadership: some characteristics of a participative leader;
• Begins with involving people
• Involvement leads to understanding,
which leads to commitment
• Taps the constructive power of people
• Creates a humanistic and productive
• Means understanding the views and
interests of all affected
Making a Difference: Treat people as if they were what they should be,
and you help them become
what they are capable of becoming.” Johann von Goethe. Empowerment!