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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 and community
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 body wants
empowerment and every manager/leader wants empowered employees.
Always keep in your mind “Empower your employees”- The most important asset in the organizations.
Empowered personnel have "responsibility, a sense of ownership, satisfaction in accomplishments,
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 organization as
much as the organization needs them, "and the need is much more than a paycheck and benefit
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 individuals.
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 individuals.
_ \Power as an expanding pie: With empowerment, employees must be trained to expand their
power and their new influence potential. Empowerment changes the dynamics between
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 developing their
5. Expand inducements for thinking and acting, not just obeying.

Empowerment Outcomes-Organizational:
_ Well-Functioning Services
􀀹 Publicly accountable
􀀹 Efficient
􀀹 Integrated
􀀹 Culturally appropriate
􀀹 Maintained overtime
_ Organizational Effectiveness and Capacity
􀀹 Sustainability
􀀹 Produce outcomes
􀀹 Effective leadership
􀀹 Empowering to members
􀀹 Bridging social capital

Empowering Organizations:
“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
their work.
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 subordinates.

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 organization. What’s
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 effective action.

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 initiative.
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.

Share Information:
Begin by asking what information is needed.
Encourage everyone to contribute to the information pool.
Except for personal stuff, avoid secrets.
Demonstrate openness.
Invite questions and challenges.
Change your position readily when new information demands reconsideration.

Hold Everyone Accountable:
Authority without accountability becomes self-centeredness.
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
of goals.
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 high performance.

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 workplace
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!

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