Just as we instill courage when we “en-courage,” we develop power when we “em-power.” Empowerment relies upon the willingness of employees at all levels of an organization to accept the responsibilities that accompany authority.
Empowerment is a kind of democracy in the workplace. Like democracy, empowerment frees us to make decisions and take action. And like democracy, empowerment requires that we recognize and establish boundaries within which effective decisions and actions can occur. Empowerment is what happens in organizations when supervisors follow General George S. Patton’s advice: “Give direction, not directions.”
This book has a dual purpose. The first purpose is to debunk certain myths that surround the word empowerment so you can develop a sense of empowerment in your life. We’ll consider a number of examples that explore the concept of empowerment. As we’ll see, empowerment involves trust and is based upon two primary assumptions:
- Most employees are ready, willing, and able to do what is best for the organization;
- Most supervisors understand—and wish to avoid—the negative consequences of micromanaging.
The second purpose of this book is to help you create empowerment within your organization. You’ll find specific tips, techniques, and tools to help promote your own empowerment and the empowerment of others. These tools require involvement on your part—it’s not enough just to read about them. To achieve mastery, you must practice.
As you read this book, keep in mind that everyone reports to someone or is responsible to others inside or outside the workplace, and that good ideas can be found anywhere within an organization.