The Real Truth About Empowerment Pt. 2

The danger of power is the illusion that you know more than those who don’t have it.

“Power is the ability to afford not to learn.” Karl Deutsch


What you do when you gain power reveals who you are.

Successful leaders use power to make others feel powerful. (I’m not suggesting you use “feeling powerful” as a charade.)

Empowerment includes making people feel powerful.

4 practical ways to make people feel powerful:

#1. Inclusion makes people feel powerful.

If you want people to feel powerful, include them.

  1. Listen as if they were in charge.
  2. Define and clarify problems together.
  3. Ask, “What do you think?”
  4. Explore their solutions with a ‘how might we make this work’ approach.

#2. Decision-making makes teams feel powerful.

  1. Teach teams how to explore options, make decisions, take action, evaluate results, and make adjustments.
  2. Define and clarify values in terms of behaviors. Values are useful when they’re verbs, not nouns. “Excellence” doesn’t mean much until it’s defined with action words.
  3. Be transparent with information.
  4. Explore consequences and accountabilities. The power to make decisions includes the responsibilities of ownership.

#3. Affirm and challenge.

Affirmation without challenge leads to arrogance, entitlement, and indulgence.

You’re really great at systems thinking…

  1. What are you doing to maximize that strength?
  2. How might you seize this opportunity?
  3. How might systems improve _____ (insert a long-term initiative)?
  4. How might you serve others with your strength?

#4. Connect people with their inner drivers.

Don’t judge others by your personal motivations.

One man on my team often judges things with his fun-o-meter. When he approves of something, he says, “That was fun.” He often wonders how to make things fun.

My question to him, in one form or another is, “How can we make this fun?” 

Teams and individuals feel disempowered because leaders protect their own power.

How might leaders create environments and interactions that help others feel powerful?

Take two minutes to read: The Real Truth About Empowerment Pt. 1

CFE Banner