Don’t Just Empower: 4 Ways to Share Power

Power Sharing

It was a lesson I learned playing tug-of-war in gym class: None of us is as powerful as all of us.

Even the weakest of us had power that could make a difference.  Nobody had to “empower” us.

Empowerment is a concept that on the surface sounds good, until you really think about what it means.  The prefix “em” means to “put into.”  To empower people is to put power into them, to enable them to do something.  Well, that’s better than complete domination, but it is still top-down control.

What if companies went beyond mere empowerment and instead maximized everyone’s power?

Not power to dominate.  Power to liberate.  Power to create.  Power to share.

Shared power leads to shared knowledge.  Shared knowledge leads to better performance.  Better performance leads to better results.

Here are 4 ways to get started with power sharing:

  1. Ask. Ask people, “What do you need to provide your best value to this organization?” or, “What needs to change for you to provide your best value?”
  2. Share information and resources.  Provide information and resources (including training) that others may not even realize can help them provide their best value.
  3. Share roles and responsibilities.  Consider co-facilitation of meetings, for example.  Some roles and responsibilities could even be rotated, which will also deepen empathy and understanding among team members.  Or, you could let someone who reports to you at work attend a meeting in your place.
  4. Share reasons.  Better yet, develop the reasons “why” together.  People buy in to what they help create.

How have you shared power?

“In the past a leader was a boss.  Today’s leaders must be partners with their people . . . they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” –Ken Blanchard

This post is 4th in the series 7 Principles of Making Relationships Work at Work.

This content is also featured in, The Respect Virus:  How to Create a Contagious Culture of Respect

The Respect Virus

About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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