Are you craving power or seeking to empower others? I have been asking myself this question lately, since I have been working closely with some leaders who brand themselves as "I empower otheres to..." but, as I get closer I am seeing more of the Power than the Empowerment.

What is the difference?

People who are focused on power is focused on putting themselves in a position where they can influence or control others. For them, it is about domination, authority, and influence, without realizing that the power they have is gained based on the possibility of empowerment.

On the other hand, those who seek to empower, use their ability and power to inspire, support, develop, and enable others to think, behave, take action, and maked decisions in autonomous, independent, self-directed ways. This aspect means that gaining power actually strengthens the power of others rather than diminishing it such as occurs with domination/power.

Do we have unrealistic expectations of empowerment?

An employer pointed out to me couple days ago that employees have unrealistic perceptions about what empowerment is and how it's supposed to work in real time.

Then an employee stated in frustration that employers don't just have unrealistic perceptions about what empowerment is and how it's supposed to work, they don't understand what it really means.

So what is empowerment? How can we recognize it? Evaluate it?

Empowerment is a helping others to grow, achieve, and succeed in their personal or work life. To begin to demystify the concept of empowerment, we need to understand the concept broadly in order to be clear about how and why we narrow our focus of empowerment for specific programs and projects (specific dimension or level, etc.) and to allow discussion of empowerment across disciplinary and practice lines. Understanding empowerment became a critical issue for us as we grappled with the task of sharing the People Empowering People (PEP) program with Extension faculty across the country.

The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways. Think, too, of empowerment as an employee philosophy and strategy that organizations benefit from adopting. Empowered employees, who are operating within an organization's strategic framework that includes mission and goals increase the productivity and effectiveness of the workplace. They are enabled to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively without feeling as if they are waiting for a decision, waiting for direction, and waiting for permission to act. They become more responsible and accountable when self-direction is the norm. Employee involvement and participative management are often used to mean empowerment. They are not interchangeable. Each describes a different characteristic of an effective workplace.