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What is Empowerment
Empowerment is a designation of a leadership style or approach, which focuses on strengthening the powers, increasing the spiritual, political, social, economic or decision making power of workers or organizational units.

“In any organization men would move up from the bottom to the top. That develops loyalty, ambition and talent, because there is a chance for promotion.”

Alfred Pritchard Sloan

Empowerment is a designation of a leadership style or approach, which focuses on strengthening the powers, increasing the spiritual, political, social, economic or decision making power of workers or organizational units. Empowerment is a broader concept than is delegation of powers, since it is focused on the use of the full potential of workers (ideas, energy, enthusiasm and knowledge). Empowerment requires a climate of trust, together with shared goals, a certain degree of discretion, but also a high degree of responsibility of authorized personnel.

It is therefore a systematic transfer of decision making authority from higher levels of the decision making hierarchy to lower levels accompanied by a transfer of responsibilities.

In favor of empowerment the following arguments are usually mentioned:

  • Authorized staff learn to make independent decisions and thereby are professionally developed
  • An executive frees his hands from excess decisions that have to be made and keeps just the crucial decisions
  • Empowerment has a motivation character to authorized personnel and greater freedom of action, it enriches their work
  • Hierarchy of decision making based on empowerment is seen as more flexible
  • Decisions are made quickly, on the spot, and with knowledge of the facts

Empowerment in practise: Empowerment may be accompanied by excessive decentralization, when it comes to delegating decision making powers from the senior managers to lower levels of management, especially because it is more of a leadership style than mere organizational technique.

Related terms and methods:

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Last update: 22.06.2016

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