Thursday, 21 February 2008

power of empowerment

Power is often associated with the control or command over others, the authority or delegated authority bestowed onto one. With this power, it is often expected that one uses it wisely and responsibly.

Read: ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’.

In an ideal world, that should be what it should be.

However, in reality it may not necessary be.

Empowering is to give power or authority to someone to do something. By giving this permission for them to carry out task(s) responsibly offers the empower-ee the opportunity and sense of control as well as command to complete tasks that he/she may not have prior opportunity to do so.

Nevertheless, there are people who do not want to give or share the control to others. They rather have them doing all the work and/or (yes, and/or) hover above or over the shoulder of the person even when they have delegated the task to that person.

In this situation, how can anyone learn or develop?

Empowering someone does not mean that we ‘dump’ all the responsibility(ies) to them and forget about it. Or give them all the nasties and wash our hands of it.

Empowering is about allowing someone to learn and develop. Allowing that particular someone to become a more responsible and confident person in making decisions.

In most Asian culture, empowering is just a buzzword. One that may not be necessarily be practiced, especially in a small organisation, or one that had been honourable enough to be awarded with the title of 'Chinaman company'. In these organisation(s), there are only two rules:

Rule number one, the boss is always right.
Rule number two, if the boss is wrong, refer to rule number one.

Yes, I had been told, from one boss, and I think he wasn’t really jesting at that time either. Perhaps he was. Who knows? After all, Rule number one says it all.

In my observation there are many incidences of this, not empowering another or giving the opportunity for another to learn, to follow their footsteps. Perhaps they never thought what happens when they leave or worst when they kicked the bucket ?

Is it the person’s fault that he did not teach another person, or is it his superior’s oversight on this to foresee that it will be better to have another person equipped with the skills?

At the end of the day, it is whether or not as well, we want to share that responsibility and if the other person is willing to take up the additional responsibility.

For some it is not easy, but every journey begins with a single step. I guess it’s time for me to take that step, in accepting and sharing.

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