The 10 Commandments of Empowerment

Top-down empowerment programs reflect the reason they’re needed in the first place. Disconnected leaders develop ineffective empowerment programs in secluded conference rooms.

There’s no power left for others when control is concentrated in top leadership.

You can’t control people and give them power at the same time.

Empowerment is making people feel powerful.

Empowerment begins when you give control to capable others.

Cambridge definitions:

Disempower: to take away someone’s confidence and feeling of being in control of their life.

Empower: to encourage and support the ability to do something.

The 10 commandments of empowerment:

  1. Thou shalt not give quick answers. People won’t contribute their insights to a boss’s ‘brilliant’ ideas.
  2. Thou shalt not establish policies and procedures for everyone when only one person screws up. Rules and regulations are symptoms of distrust. You can’t give power to someone you don’t trust.
  3. Thou shalt not tell capable people how to do their jobs.
  4. Thou shalt affirm more than complain by a ratio of 3:1. If you want insecure teams, complain more than commend.
  5. Thou shalt notice people. Distance and disconnection say people don’t matter. Connection is assurance. Assurance is confidence. Tip: thou shalt say good morning.
  6. Thou shalt remember that connecting isn’t meddling.
  7. Thou shalt laugh at thy own mistakes. Your response to mistakes creates environments of fear or confidence.
  8. Thou shalt explain what’s important. Priorities concentrate and magnify power. Ambiguity dilutes power and devalues energy.
  9. Thou shalt walk-about at least once a day.
  10. Thou shalt maintain curiosity.

Disempowered people:

  1. Lack initiative.
  2. Feel discouraged.
  3. Save their best energy for situations where they matter.
  4. Complain.
  5. Blame you for their misery. Weak people need scapegoats.

Empowerment is freedom.

Create an environment that honors power in others.

Great power is achieved by giving control to capable others.

Which of the 10 commandments is most relevant to you?

When do you feel most empowered?

Bonus material:

Symptoms of Empowerment (New Mexico State University)

6 Ways to Empower People to be their Best (Inc)

10 Tips to Empower your Staff (Business)