What is empowerment? LO26180

From: Bill Hancy (wthancy@home.com)
Date: 02/20/01

Replying to LO26170 --


I agree with you that "empowerment does come from within." As a child, I
was taught to obtain authoritative approval in almost every aspect of my
life. Teachers, clergy, parents, brothers, sisters, neighbors, coaches,
police--as a child almost everyone I knew was in an authoritative role,
which severely hindered my empowerment. In these instances, there was
finite power available--they had a lot of it, I had very little. Growing
up, their authoritative roles diminished in many capacities and the reigns
of power were slowly transitioned. Those same people had less and less of
an impact over me--I held a larger portion of the finite power available
between us. It was during this transition that I experimented with
empowerment (doing as I wished). Empowerment instilled responsibility,
creativity, innovation, etc.; but it also came with accountability, risk,
failure, and at times, punishment for noncompliance.

In my professional and academic lives, I still catch myself occasionally
requesting authoritative approval. My professor pointed this out to me
about a month ago when I asked for clarification on an assignment. I've
since disciplined myself to question my empowerment level prior to seeking
someone else's approval. So what empowerment means to me is doing what I
want to do, the way I want to do it, and under my rules of authority.
Yes, there are levels of power throughout our society, and rightfully so.
I feel empowerment is one's capacity in using power--it comes from within
and is demonstrated by action. For example, am I speaking up when I
should? Am I offering help when I know I can? Am I listening because I
know I should be learning? Am I responding to this message because I want
to contribute? I have the "power" to do all those things, but my capacity
in exercising that power comes from empowerment.



Bill Hancy
Student, Johns Hopkins University
The Fellows in the Management of Change
Columbia, Maryland USA

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <Richard@Karash.com> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <http://www.learning-org.com>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.