Developing Leadership Skills: the Art of Empowerment

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Executive Summary

This report explores the art of empowerment and the key dimensions needed to create such a work environment. It exposes the empowerment techniques needed for managers to foster in their employees. It suggests that management empowerment is critical in creating a successful organization. Employee empowerment will incite loyalty and tenure which subsequently will increase productivity. The purpose of adopting and implementing this principle is to promote talent management through human capital investment.

1. What is Empowerment?

Empowerment is the process of enabling an individual to think, behave, react, and undertake decision making capabilities in an autonomous manner. Research supports the fact that empowered employees are more productive, satisfied and innovative (Argyris, 1998; Clark, 1999; Whetten and Cameron, 2002). These skills, thereby, create an environment that is conducive to higher employee satisfaction which can be correlated to increased productivity.

Managers should relinquish some degree of power and control, which will allow for employees to make decisions, set goals, accomplish results; and reap benefits and rewards for their successes. As a result, managers will have the propensity to become more effective and can therefore focus on other strategic areas of concern.

Empowerment is not acquired; it must be developed and practiced; as such, managers must bring about the following five key dimensions in those that they seek to empower.

2. Five Key Dimensions of Empowerment

According to Whetten and Cameron (2002) there are five key dimensions to empowerment: A sense of self-efficacy; a sense of self determination; a sense of personal consequence; a sense of meaning; and a sense of trust. These qualities must be fostered in those we wish to empower.

2.1. A sense of self-efficacy

Employees feel that they possess the capability and competence to perform the task successfully. This self confidence encourages the individual to believe that they can surpass any obstacles encountered in attaining a specific goal.

2.2. Sense of Self Determination

Employees feel that they have a choice in shaping their conduct. This behavior is evident when individuals believe that they can voluntarily perform a task without having to be continuously told or conversely, forbidden from assuming initiative. With increased freedom and autonomy, individuals will be more apt to take ownership and this self determination which will likely lead to an elevated level of work satisfaction, higher levels of performance, creativity, innovation and increased job involvement.

2.3. A Sense of Personal Consequence

Employees believe that they can make a difference by influencing the environment in which they work. The individual derives a sense of control when obstacles in the external environment are controlled and surmounted so that a desired outcome is achieved. In essence, a sense of personal consequence enables the employee to be proactive rather than reactive by changing the effect of the external environment in order gain control over it.

2.4. A Sense of Meaning

Employees value the purpose of the activity in which they are engaged; the empowered individual gleans meaning from tasks undertaken which, in turn, creates a sense of purpose and passion for work that they perceive as meaningful. Subsequently, this sense of purpose will be manifested through augmented commitment and involvement which will ultimately benefit the organization as a whole.

2.5. A Sense of Trust

Employees are confident that they will be treated fairly by their superiors.

3. Developing Empowerment

The organization's success is dependent upon our ability to develop and implement the support systems necessary to empower our employees. When employees perceive situations to be either threatening, unclear, coercive, controlling, and unjust, they react negatively and the...
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