Empowerment: What is it, and how does it relate to leadership? The concept of empowerment, especially in organizations, we use widely today, mainly when discussing cooperation, growth, development, and organizational leadership.
When we hear or read about empowerment, the first thing we think of is autonomy. However, is this the meaning of empowerment?
In this article, you will learn what empowerment is and how it relates to leadership to begin the path that will lead you to become an outstanding leader.
But first, what is empowerment?
Empowerment does not have a concrete concept. However, depending on the interpretation, we can say that empowerment is:
- The process by which people strengthen their capacities, confidence, vision, and leadership as part of a social group promotes positive changes in the situations in which they live.
- When people and organized groups have autonomy in decision-making and exercise control over their lives based on free access to information, inclusive participation, accountability, and capacity building.
- The process of change in which people gain access to power and, as a result, transform relationships within an organization regardless of the rank or status of the individual within it.
So what is leadership?
Leadership is the set of skills that a certain person must possess to influence the way of thinking or acting of other individuals, motivating them to make the tasks that these people must carry out efficiently. Helping in this way to the achievement of goals, using different tools such as charisma and confidence when speaking, besides the ability to socialize with others. The person shows leadership by taking the initiative, offering innovative ideas, etc.
The concept of leadership is as a group of directive or managerial skills that a person possesses to influence the way of acting or being, of the individuals or group of individuals of a certain job, motivating this team to work enthusiastically about obtaining the achievement of all goals, activities, and objectives.
In addition, the definition of leadership is also the ability to commission, manage, have initiative, convene, promote, motivate, incentivize, and evaluate a project efficiently and effectively. Be it personal, institutional, or managerial (within the administrative system of the company).
How does empowerment influence leadership?
Developing an empowering leadership culture can be a complex process.
Leaders are influenced by factors including the external environment, such as strategic ambitions, challenges, individual personalities, capabilities, team dynamics, etc. These factors interrelate and must be clear and to understand and identify opportunities and obstacles that prevent a culture of empowerment.
Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” explains how to empower leaders to achieve long-term sustainable financial and people results. There is also the book “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, which reveals that there is no open communication without trust, which leads to less commitment, lack of responsibility, a culture without power, and poor results.
In Erik Hiep’s opinion, “The key to all of this is trust. Trust is the oil and glue of the team, and, indeed, of the entire organization,” he argues. He believes that there are three levels of trust in organizations, which implies developing:
- Trust in themselves and the team.
- Align the different teams in the organization.
- Reputation (to keep promises, for example).
Everyone wants to be trusted, and when that happens, we trust others in response, allowing for concerted progress.
“To build a strong team, you need strong people,” continues Hiep. “Strong people need self-confidence, and building this is a ‘super dynamic’ process.” This makes it difficult to manage, not least because there is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance.
Developing and managing self-confidence in an organization’s workforce poses a challenge for both business leaders and Learning and Development (L&D) professionals, who know that the style and quality of business leaders can build (or destroy) people’s self-confidence, and those with low levels of self-confidence will only perform average, at best.
On the other hand, empowering leadership builds strong people, creating strong teams, strong organizations, and therefore strong results.
Following this “solid results” model of “build the person, build the team and build the organization” to help your organization be successful, L&D professionals should always ask, ‘where does it hurt?’ So that they can then identify the area in the business that needs to change.
Now that you know what empowerment is and how it relates to leadership, you can work on your personal and professional growth in the best way.