The Real Truth About Empowerment

People who feel powerless sleepwalk through opportunities, view change as threatening, and hide behind obstacles.

Feeling weak squanders usefulness.


Powerless people use things they can’t control as reason to reduce effort, pull back, or quit.

Feeling powerful:

People who feel powerful bring energy, skill, and openness to opportunities. Optimism comes to mind. I’ll go so far as to say that feeling powerful is necessary to view problems and challenges as opportunities.

Feeling powerful leads to vitality and productivity. Dependency leads to hesitation, anxiety, and discouragement.

  1. Power is the ability to get things done.
  2. Power feels like confidence, satisfaction, and optimism.
  3. Feeling powerful energizes tomorrow’s effort.

Successful leaders create environments where people find, enjoy, and use their power in responsible ways.

Control and power:

The best way to feel powerless, stressed, drained, and discouraged is to focus on things outside your control.

“It’s very empowering to focus on the things you can do and to try to get the baggage of what you can’t control off your shoulders.” Ellen Kullman former CEO DuPont  

  1. Give qualified people control over their work.
  2. Establish mutually designed accountabilities.
  3. Ask people about times in their lives when they felt most powerful.
  4. Expect people to live up to their abilities.

The more power you exert, the more dependent others feel, unless you use power to make others feel powerful.

Humility and feeling powerful:

Humble leaders feel powerful because they accept their scope of control and do what they can. Arrogance, on the other hand is safe. It always has something outside its scope of control to blame for failure.

Arrogance disempowers by overestimating one’s scope of control.

It takes  authentic courage to let go of what you can’t control and own your power by focusing on things you can do. 

More tomorrow….

How might leaders help team members enter into their power?

What leadership behaviors drain power from others?

Take two minutes to read: The Real Truth About Empowerment Pt. 2