Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Power is about what you can control.  Freedom is about what you can unleash”.
-Harriet Rubin
In today’s world a lot is said about empowerment.  What does that really mean?  It doesn’t mean letting everyone run wild.  In much of corporate America there are rules about everything.  Over and above the rules that are actually documented, there are the rules people just make up on the spot.  When confronted with imaginary rules I have often asked, “Where is that written”?  Over the years I have also noticed that people sometimes follow rules they think exist when, in fact, there is no such rule.  It is not unusual for people to say, “It’s not my job”.  Another common phrase I’ve heard is, “I thought we aren’t supposed to do that”?  Some rules are necessary, usually because of bad behavior on someone’s part, and many things need guidelines, but many other rules are just constricting.  I once read about a company who had no rules.  Their associate handbook simply said, “You were hired for your intelligence and good judgment.  Use it”.  This describes empowerment.  Employers must believe that their employees are not idiots and they must trust them to make the right decisions, especially if they are in leadership positions.  A lack of trust encourages people to not take initiative or think outside the box.  Most employees are more concerned with following the rules and staying out of trouble because many organizations are fear driven.  Organizations that are full of rules and specific expectations about how things should be done can stifle creativity, independent thinking, and associate growth.  Always following the rules is a power game.  Empowerment can release untold possibilities and unlimited potential in people who may feel and act like drones in overly controlled environments.  Set people free and see what they can do.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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