Here are some tips to help you become empowered and encourage empowered behaviour from your team.
There is a lot of talk of managers empowering other people. However, this is a contradiction, as one person cannot give another person power. Power must be taken. Empowered behaviour is active rather than passive.
What are the characteristics of an empowered person?
An empowered person is someone who says: “I’m going to take a certain amount of power and control over my job, my work environment, my relationships and behaviour, to get what I need to do my job.” However, many people adopt a “child role” in their job, where the manager, or the organisation is the parent and they hope to be given power.
One of the most useful ideas for self empowerment is “assertion theory”. People need to understand that everyone has rights, to have their say, and to be treated with respect and say “no” if necessary, regardless of their position in an organisation. At the same time this has to be done while respecting the rights of other people to make certain requests.
How to encourage empowered behaviour
People need to be encouraged to think about what their rights are. Many people are afraid to make requests (of a manager for example), for fear of negative consequences. Under this circumstance they need to be challenged about what their rights are. Instead of waiting for power to be given, they need to generate and take it.
Empowerment needs practice
Often people are afraid to try out these skills because of the possibility of negative reactions, for example that they won’t be liked or will be punished in some way. Empowerment skills need to be practised in order for people to be comfortable with them, and allow them to become second nature. In the long run, the use of these skills will earn more respect from others.
If a person is naturally critical
Destructive comments can be turned into constructive comments. Rather than just criticising a system or person for their behaviour, or blame lack of resources as the cause of a problem, take action and work out how to do something about it and make use of the resources that are available. This is empowered behaviour.
How can people change?
In order to be empowered, people need to identify opportunities and experiment with behaviours, with making requests and being more assertive. They need to state what they need, to do their job better.
Sometimes people become enthused by a self-help program or new approach they have read about, and set themselves up for failure by attempting to make too big a change, in too little time. They need to plan small, incremental changes that will be more likely to last longer and stay that way.
Leadership and empowerment
It is logical that there is a correlation between being empowered and being a successful leader. People who take control and are self-empowered tend to make better entrepreneurs, suffer less stress and potentially become better leaders.
So take the time to look inwards and ask yourself – are you empowered? What could you do to improve?
By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and author of Rewrite Your Life! (Penguin 2002) and co-producer with Peter Quarry of the Ash.Quarry production – Self Empowerment (from the Take Away Training series © Ash.Quarry Productions) www.7dimensions.com.au
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