Empowerment means “authority or power given to someone to do something.” There is little doubt regarding the numerous benefits resulting from empowered employees. However, despite the buzz regarding empowerment, too often organisations speak about empowering their employees, but in reality, this is not true.
Empowering employees cannot be a strategy on its own. Throwing people into the deep end is not always the best way to reap the benefits of workplace empowerment. The majority of those in management positions are not yet ready for this redistribution of power.
To enable, is traditionally defined as “to provide someone with the resources, authority, or opportunity to do something; to make something possible or feasible.” If organisations really want to help empower employees, they have to do more than just give authority and control; they have to help employees manage their new autonomy.
Empowerment and enablement need to work together. Enablement involves helping people develop the necessary competencies to manage their own empowerment effectively and providing the necessary tools. When enablement is not part of an empowerment effort, the effort is likely to fail.
The term ‘enablement,’ refers to the practice of actively assisting ordinary employees in developing the skills they need to effectively manage their newly empowered status by supplying the means, knowledge and opportunity to do something.
The leader’s role is not to empower others for the sake of empowerment by merely transferring power. It is a strategic view of leadership that builds enabling structures, cultures and habits to support and develop others to become effective, self-autonomous individuals who are full of ideas, innovation and drive that creates competitive edge for the business.
Barner, R. (1994). Enablement: The key to empowerment. Retrieved from https://go.galegroup.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA16074720&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=10559760&p=AONE&sw=w.
Boyd, C. (2018). Empowered teams need enabling leadership. Retrieved from https://postshift.com/empowered-teams-need-enabling-leadership/.
Kelly, R . (2015). Isn’t it time to bury empowerment for enablement? Retrieved from https://www.leadershipissues.org/surely-it-is-time-to-bury-empowerment-for-enablement/.
Lombardo, V. (2018). Empowerment vs enablement – A leadership conundrum. Retrieved from https://www.heartlandpaymentsystems.com/blog/2018/06/21/empowerment-vs-enablement-a-leadership-conundrum.