My Take on the Word ‘Empower’

There are certain words about which I have an open bias—empower is one of those words.

If you do an Internet search about empowering people, you will find multiple articles, blogs, websites, etc. about how to empower someone. One result even listed 50 ways to empower people!

So here is my bias: Empowering means transferring power to another person. It suggests someone needs your ideas, your talent, and your permission to do something.

I do not believe you can give anyone power. What you can do is create an environment in which people can develop and use their power.

Instead of thinking about how you can empower someone, think about:

  • As a leader, how can I make sure everyone knows what is expected of them?
  • How can I get out of my employees’ way?
  • What can I do to incentivize long-term thinking?
  • Do I know my employees’ personal and professional goals?
  • What tools and resources can I provide my employees to help them grow in their roles?
  • How can I seek out dissenting viewpoints and be open to new ideas?
  • How can I make it clear that what each person in our organization does matters?
  • Am I willing to allow people to make mistakes and create a process whereby we all can learn from that mistake?
  • What must I overcome mentally and emotionally to give up control yet retain full responsibility?

Taking care of your people does not mean protecting them from the consequences of their own behavior. That’s the path to irresponsibility.

What it does mean is giving them every available tool and advantage to achieve their aims in life, beyond the specifics of the job.

What I love about EOS is it sets leaders up to empower their team members the way I use the definition. It encourages communication, openness and honesty, delegation, and growth. It has good systems for evaluating your goals and processes so you can adjust and improve where you need to—all while giving your team members the framework and opportunity to grow and achieve their goals.

How are you empowering your employees? Do you agree with my bias on the word empower? Please schedule a time to share your thoughts with me using the consult form below. We can discuss how you are empowering your team, how you are using EOS, or you can ask any questions you have about the process. 

Now you know my take on the word “empower.” I’d love to know yours.