How to Empower People and Improve Productivity
What does empowering means? There are many definitions for this words comprising anything from social to psychological, political or personal power. I will use the simplest one: To empower means "to give someone the power or the authority to do something." Yes, that means that people are allowed to be foolish. They are allowed to fail or make mistakes. For the most, empowerment means giving people the ability 'to see clearly' and to make their own choices. Since people make their choices, they are also more responsible and responsive.
Empowering can happen at a personal level by bringing about changes in one's own confidence, beliefs or actions. Empowering is also accomplished by having freedom and access to information to make good decisions. Empowered people are able to contribute at different scales large and small.
"He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still." Lao-Tzu
Parents, mentors, companies, schools, and any other entity dealing with human resources need to learn how to empower others, because empowered people make better decisions, and generate better overall results. Places that seek innovators usually promote empowerment, help them, and get out of their ways to see their creativity rise.
Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO, said that smart, empowered people energize any system or team they work with, are highly productive, and teach each other to break the molds. Mr. Welch philosophy allows GE to transform from old factories into a hybrid technology and service companies by promoting people's uniqueness, creativity, and by self-empowering his top employees, leading and then getting out of the way. He himself was allow to develop into the best of himself.
"Creating human energy is what Zapp is about. It deals with the basic principles of empowering people, of helping employees to take ownership of their job so that they take personal interest in improving their performance in the organization." William Byham and Jeff Cox, authors of Zapp.
“You have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best idea must win, not the ‘best person’ with the most power or seniority.” Steve Jobs.
Jobs knew perhaps from his own personal experience that innovators need freedom to present their ideas, to be visionaries, to go beyond what is currently know or accepted by the majority. It is never easy, and by exposing these new ideas people make themselves vulnerable to many things. For example, someone may run away with their creative ideas. They may also face failure more frequently than other people who do not take any risks. These people who are different are what we call the innovators.
We may say that people like Jobs, Albert Einstein, or the three people recognized for their involvement in the invention of the light bulb, Davy, Swan and Edison, all follow into a pattern described by Muriel Strode--They did not follow the easiest path,instead they [went to a place] where there was no path and open a trail for us . Their lives were no perfect and in some cases success came after many failures. They became the inspiring people we look after, only after their trial and errors in life. Yet, all of them at certain critical times were allowed to do something. In other words, they were empowered people.
I am not here to promote the corporate world, though it is important to know how these systems work. How can gigantic corporations like GM, Zappos (now under Amazon), Amazon, Google, and Apple work. How they approach markets such as China. In a way, these big enterprises promote flexibility, informality, perhaps not in all aspects, but sure enough in the creative areas--of which they are highly dependable for success. They promote a family/small business culture, within the larger structure.
For parents, this does not mean to leave the kids do everything they want. Or to praise them for no reason. Yet, it is important that parents and teachers allow kids to be themselves. To be authentic.
It is important to encourage the natural skills of people, those things they enjoy the best. Though sometimes people become good at something they struggled with. The world always need people who love what they are doing. The wonderful performers, the great mathematicians, the skillful carpenters.
Many of our pains indicate to us that we are deviating from our paths. Sometimes we need to find what we are good at, what we love doing and redefine ourselves. Some people belief that when we find our passions after pain, we become stronger beings. Yet, if kids are empowered and have enough freedom to be creative and develop in the area they are best at, maybe they would have no need to re-discover their passion or purpose.
Our society can not afford to continue training people for factory and labor work that no longer exist. Today, more and more people are establishing small and independent business. Many people work from home. Yet education continues to ignore the need to prepare students in areas of finance, management, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurialism, communication and business. People from all careers benefit with a basic knowledge in these areas.
Individuals need to be allowed to be who they are. Because by doing so they will contribute their gifts instead of their pains.
Daniel Pink who said that work spaces and society in general benefit by having less less automatons,--and more autonomous people-- less management and more freedom to truly become engaged. This means more empowered people.
Empower many, if you cannot, empower one--Start with yourself.
Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Productivity, Quality, and Employee Satisfaction”; William Byham and Jeff Cox; 1997
Jack Welch books
Anthony Robbins unleash the power within
Daniel Pink books
Steve Jobs book
© 2011 MSantana