Why is Empowerment important?


Future Face’s Theme of May is Empowerment and the Future Faces Young Professional Network welcomed our guest speaker, Ian Harrison in the Jacobson Browne office on the 4th March.

Ian started with asking the audience what Empowerment meant to them. A few phases that appeared were, the feeling of:

  • Being enabled or energised
  • Being able to make own their decisions
  • Having the confidence to complete their work
  • Being trusted and valued

Ian then explored these thoughts and delved into his Enabling Leaders Model, which is described in his book, authored with Myles Downey, The Enabling Manager. This model goes into 4 areas: Why, What, How and Relate.

When I see the Enabling Leaders Model, I instantly think of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.” Golden Circle and one of his quotes: “Leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they did not think possible.”

I have seen individuals, including myself, struggle due to lack of empowerment. We become disengaged in the work, we burn out and sometimes, we want to look for new opportunities and projects get delayed. Usually, these individuals have similar feeling like they:

  • were not valued;
  • were not trusted;
  • had a lack of direction;
  • did not understand why they had to do something;
  • did not know what they were being asked to do; or
  • did not know how to do the task.

As such, through miscommunication or lack of communication, some of organisations’ most talented individuals leave. In some cases, it’s not knowing how to carry out the expectation, through capability or otherwise, and it’s down to the leader to ensure they empower their staff with the right tools and authority to bring out the best of their employees, colleagues, or staff.

For me, to empower someone in the workplace is to give them the opportunity to individually carry out their work, or their passion, and to encourage or motivate them.

There was a time I did not know why we were carrying out a project and I did not have the authority to challenge or make decisions. I provided alternative options which were dismissed and eventually, after not feeling valued, I moved on.

As a leader, or aspiring leaders, how could we encourage our colleagues to ask the questions that bothers them, how do we relate and build trust among our colleagues and friends, and motivate them to be the best they can be? How can we give them permission to ask:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What do we need to do?
  • When do we need to do it by?
  • What are your expectations of me?
  • What decisions can I make?