Becoming Great- True Empowerment Anyone?
Empowerment vs Autonomy
—————–=A Job vs a Responsibility
Regarding the importance of organizational effectiveness and establishing an effective culture:
There is a great deal of confusion between empowerment and autonomy in the business management world. They are similar and in fact inclusive of one another to a degree. Empowerment is the idea of being equipped, outfitted and prepared to carry out a responsibility (more on this in a moment). Autonomy literally means “self (auto)-law-(nomos
)”. Any adult in this country who is legally sane is an autonomous person. They function on their own and let’s thank God they do. But are they empowered? Maybe. A self- governing person can make independent decisions and have independent thought, but are they making correct decisions and taking correct actions or thinking relevant thoughts? Is an autonomous person thinking about the right things? Is heshe able to make decisions that have a particular impact say, on their finances or how to improve their work performance or solve a problem? Can they represent the desires and move the goals of the family, their career or their workplace FORWARD? Most people want to be “empowered” but what they really are saying is “let ME decide.” As the Leader YOU must decide if they are ready.
On the one hand, an empowered person can work for you and not be autonomous because you don’t allow (don’t trust) that person to make independent decisions, because for whatever reason you don’t trust people . There is of course a price you pay for this. On the other hand, an autonomous person, who is not empowered can be allowed to make independent decisions that put you out of business because they aren
’t “empowered” to succeed.
(My guess is that if you’ve
done the latter before, you have been “burned”, and this may have led to a hard time trusting people, period.)
This is where empowerment comes in. Empowerment as I mentioned earlier has to do with “readiness” and preparation to carry out a responsibility. Empowerment has do to with knowledge, skill, character and wisdom. Empowerment can be attained by training and development for sure. But that is not the end. When you hire the RIGHT people, you need to select them based on having the desired character, wisdom, skill, and aptitudes.
They must receive your organization’s knowledge and skill development they need, and in the right way, thoroughly, so they can succeed at the fulfilling their job responsibilities. (This is called orientation or “on-boarding”.
If you select people this way, and treat them in this way they will be by definition, empowered and autonomous and
make the use of their skill and knowledge trustworthy. Because in the end, the right person
is an empowered AND autonomous person who is capable and can be
trusted to fulfill their responsibility to the organization.
BOTH are necessary-
These two distinctions are absolutely critical and the goal is to hire people with the desired values, character, wisdom, and knowledge, train them and THEN give them autonomy. If you can do both you will achieve an exponential success that is far beyond what you could accomplish otherwise. The effect is that people like this will EMPOWER YOU.
Now, as to the difference between a job and a responsibility:
In the book, Good to Great, the Author Jim Collins uses the job of Air Traffic Controller to contrast the difference between a job and a responsibility. What is the Air Traffic Controller’s job: to guide the planes in taking off and landing. What is his/her responsibility? To make sure they do so safely, to make sure they don’t crash as they do so. Can the Air Traffic Controller perform his job tasks and not take responsibility? Yes he/she can follow the procedures completely and a situation that is not “in the book” will come up one day and people will die. But because the Air Traffic Controllers take responsibility, they do every thing they can to make sure NO PLANES crash. It is their assumption of responsibility that makes them incredibly successful. Thank GOD!!!!
Empowered people to have responsibilities, NOT just jobs.
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