What if empowerment is an insult?


#empowerment #leadership #development #evolutionary Executive

In his great book (my opinion), Turn the Ship Around,  David Marquet explains how empowerment is actually an insult, and recognizes the usual leadership model as the blah, blah that it is, replacing it with the next round of evolution in how to be an effective leader. Wow! We need to wake up and smell this coffee. The old top down, command and control, the military model, can no longer compete. This from an ex-Naval Officer.

Empower needs to become emancipate.

Quite a shift. And yes, we all need to get this. It is coming.

I googled the word ’emancipation’  and was shown the following definition: the act of freeing or state of being freed; liberation, freedom from inhibition and convention

For empowered I was shown: give (someone) the authority or power to do something

Marquet addresses the ‘giving of power’ and points out that every individual is powerful when they are allowed to be. He considers it simply wrong to believe that one person can ‘give’ power to another. All we can do is restrict the use of another person’s power. The kind of power here is the power of inherent genius, energy and creativity of every person. The element that allows one in authority to allow someone to be fully powerful, to use their innate abilities, is embedded in trust. I need to have trust of myself as the one in authority and trust that the other person is powerful enough to do the job well. Acknowledging the inherent talent of a person, helping to channel that through comprehensive training, and then invitation to use all of that power is the formula. This is not to encourage reckless delegation. We do not give the controls of a large vehicle to a six year old.

Imagining this scene brings forth a range of objections, yet, if we look closely and with an open mind, the steps to establishing such a relationship start to become clearer. It is possible. Fundamental is that the person to be taking on the task must be completely clear on what the task entails and the end result required. They need to have been trained to do the task or at least in one way to approach it. They need to agree that they are ready to take it on.

The only empowering needed is to reverse the disempowerment of the top down (do what you are told) paradigm that so many of us have experienced. The top down model of leadership is the convention that we need to be freed from. Millenials get this and speak out.

You know you have accomplished what Marquet suggests, and I quote,  “when you no longer have the  ability to empower people because they are not relying on you as their source of power”.

Marquet led the USS Santa Fe from last to first in the nuclear submarine fleet. He did this without the options to fire or replace staff  or offer bonuses or to increase salary. He has my attention.

Joseph Seiler MCC