Accomplish Goals with Empowerment

Empowerment of people is the overall goal of leaders within organizations today. Far from being a fad, empowerment of workers at all levels is a means of coping with challenges and problems. Empowerment means not so much giving people power but recognizing the power they have and unleashing it to help the organization operate more effectively. To maximize empowerment of people, many of the traditional principles of power and authority are as applicable as they ever were.

Authority and power are so closely allied that it is difficult to discuss one without also discussing the other. Leadership authority is often difficult to define precisely, but this definition fits most situations: Authority is the right vested in a position to accomplish the goals of the organization through supervision of the time and effort of other people, and the enhancement of organizational productivity through motivation.

Authority, then, implies that you have a right to direct the activities of the group. Power, on the other hand, is based on the relationship leaders typically develop with the members of their team: Power is influence, derived from the respect and trust developed by an individual, and is based on relationships developed with others.

From the dawn of recorded history, the right to exercise authority has been tied to ownership – ownership of land, property, or the means of production. Authority derived from ownership is delegated to leaders with the expectation that they will use that authority to further the interests of the owner. Thus, authority is inherent in your role as a leader.

Authority’s companion is power. No matter how much authority top leadership delegates to you, the ability to enforce that authority comes essentially from you. No one else can give you that ability – it comes from within. That ability is what we call power. While power can be withheld or prevented by top leadership – or even by a union contract – it cannot be automatically granted by executive order or via e-mail. It is possible for leaders to have authority because of their title but to lack any real power to exercise it. Lack of power may be a result of the leader’s own personal qualities, or waning influence may stem from unrealistic constraints imposed by top leadership.

Power is built over a period of time through multiple complex actions and reactions between you and your team members. It is primarily a function of your personal competence and credibility. While power is sometimes tenuous and fluctuating, it does tend to grow and stabilize as you demonstrate your integrity in its use.

Power and authority are extremely important because they provide you with a practical means for achieving organizational goals through leading the effort and productivity of other people.

Increase Your Effectiveness

To increase your effectiveness as a leader and to increase the resources available to you in your position within the organization, make the most of your power and authority. The goals you are pursuing in the career area of life are highly important, and they are advanced through the authority and power you exercise. Be sure that your career goals include specific goals for personal growth and development. Authority and power are derived directly from your personality and competence, and are enhanced by your personal growth.

Authority and power, wisely used, are never dissipated. They are enhanced by practice and personal growth. A leader who uses authority and power skillfully finds that team members are less likely to resort to personal power plays or to develop opposing blocks of power. Instead, team members are motivated to work cooperatively with others.

Both authority and power are most effective when they are least evident. In fact, authority has failed when power must be used to enforce it. When your authority is respected and fully recognized, you are able to function without invoking the use of power. You can, by your authority, give a direct order; but if, instead, you make a request accompanied by an explanation, you build a reserve of goodwill and respect. Team members then feel inclined to follow your suggestions and honor your requests without the need for an overt exercise of your authority.

The best use of authority and power is to use them to motivate team members and help them grow. Your authority gives you the right to work with people in ways that will enhance their contribution to the organization as a whole, while your power enlists their cooperation. As you help team members identify their own personal goals, you can demonstrate to them that increasing their productivity will enable them to move closer to their personal objectives.

The Choice of Leadership Is Yours

You may lead a rich, full life or a shallow, empty existence. But whatever you gain from life is largely a matter of choice – your choice. You are free to choose whatever you want to do or to be. Your greatest power is the power to choose your own destiny. The reality of the power that comes from your freedom of choice becomes evident when you understand the unalterable principles under which this freedom works.

Choice is a talent that must be developed. The power of choice can be developed. If you are reluctant to make choices and decisions because you fear failure, you may choose to play it safe and miss experiences that could lead to making better choices. Good decisions are based on prior decisions.

You must choose for yourself. Because no two people are exactly alike, no one can make a completely satisfactory choice for someone else. When you allow others to make your choices, you hand over to them your destiny and rob yourself of your birthright.

The choice determines the consequences. You may select any action you choose, but once you make a choice, you must accept the consequences. You can use your freedom of choice to make whatever changes of habit or attitudes are necessary for developing personal leadership and self-motivation.

Give your choices time to yield results. Today’s habits are the result of choices made long ago. Tomorrow’s habits will be the result of the choices you make today.