What does Authentic Empowerment Mean?

Category: Newsletters



In a previous newsletter you mentioned authentic empowerment. What does this mean?


Pat, PA

For a long time I avoided using the term employee empowerment because it’s overused and largely misunderstood.  I prefer the idea of individual accountability and yet this term falls short.  Authentic empowerment includes not only accountability for one’s actions, but also a willingness and ability to act independently while staying in congruence with expectations.


Instilling authentic empowerment is fairly straightforward, but it’s not quick.  The basis for authentic empowerment relies on

  • Trust based relationships, and
  • Understanding the company’s internal brand


To keep this brief, I will address the first bullet point now, and talk about the company’s brand next month.


Creating a relationship based on trust can only be accomplished in one way: one day and one interaction at a time. It’s the time consuming part of this process.


Remember, trust and respect needs to go in both directions. If your employees are unable to trust and respect you, you cannot realistically expect them to behave in a manner that will instill your trust and respect. 


However, it’s important for you to take the leap of faith and trust them first.  I have found it helpful to start with something small and work up incrementally. 


As you progress, expect them to fail sometimes.  Remember, when an employee fails, it doesn’t mean that you have reached the limits at which you can trust them. It simply means that you have both had a learning experience – if you turn it into one.  Be sure to refill their toolbox with additional tools, and trust them again in the near future.


Finally, be sure to state expectations clearly. 

  • What do you expect them to do on their own? 
  • When do you expect them to raise issues to a higher level rather than deal with it on their own? And why?  And will it always be this way? 
  • What are your responsibilities as their leader and manager?


Next month, we will look closer at how the company internal brand enables authentic empowerment.


Until then, good luck and have a great day!