Where is the power in empowerment?
No matter what your position in a company or who your line manager is, can you be empowered?
Many people feel that to be empowered you need the acknowledgement and power given to you by your line management. This is further emphasised by the definition of empowerment: “Authority or power given to someone to do something.”
But I would like to challenge that idea because many people look for purpose and empowerment in a job or career to feel fulfilled. Giving the power to your line management leaves you in a very unstable and vulnerable position. Potentially leaving you open to more stress, frustration and hopelessness. However, if you were to read the definition a little further it goes on to say:
“...the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.”
Here the power sits with you. If you shift your mindset slightly and start to view the power of empowerment with yourself it opens so many opportunities for moving forward, propelling your ideas, taking the initiative and stepping up to volunteer; all whilst having the feelings of motivation, purpose and excitement for the possibilities and empowerment. You have given the authority or the power to yourself.
When stepping back and looking in on your situation of wanting to be empowered, but don’t feel you have the space and authority to action your ideas, why not try reflecting on these:
1. Why do you feel like this?
2. Is your actual definition of empowerment getting to do what you want when you want, because you believe your idea is best?
3. Could you still have empowerment if you change the way you present your ideas? How are you currently influencing colleagues and managers? Is there a collaboration of ideas that will smash the task out of the park?
Consider empowerment from your line manager as a useful delay that may just be the time and space you need to create a great idea, plan or solution, and all that is needed is patience or influence to move it in the right direction.
Imagine if everyone was “empowered” - getting to do what they wanted when they wanted without any line management structure. Chaos, disorder or disorganisation could occur. All those great ideas, plans and solutions would be left in disarray and mayhem. We need to assume our line management has more pieces to the puzzle than we have vision of.
So next time you feel disempowered, de-motivated, searching for purpose, fed up with your ideas going nowhere, or restricted in being able to actually do your job, try to decide how to engage your plan within the constraints of your management. With some time and patience, putting yourself forward and giving yourself the power of empowerment: at best your line management will effectively delegate, trusting in your capabilities, empowering your ideas whilst passing you their power and enabling you to put restraints on yourself when required. At worst, you will feel motivated, challenged and productive whilst proactively providing ideas and solutions to your team, even if they are not the final one, they will have assisted in the direction and success of the project.
So where is the power in Empowerment? I’d suggest with you!
Bryony Vandenberg is an Impact Associate