One Apple A Day #415: The paradox of empowerment

To empower means to give (someone) the authority or power to do something. Or, more broadly, to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.

Being able to empower others is often listed among the pillars of an effective leader.

When we empower someone we are giving the same power we have. An empowered person gains control over her work or life.
In organisations, empowering everyone is a crucial ingredient to create a democratic and flat organisation. One in which, everyone raises to the same level creating co-leadership.

Though, there is a fascinating paradox in empowerment.

When we, as leaders, are empowering others, somehow we are elevating ourselves one layer above them. They may have now the power to do something, but we are the ones who gave them the power. So, we are still above them, and they have less power than we have.
Isn’t that through the empowerment of others we are in reality reinforcing our own power?

What would change if instead of empowering others we create the space in which they can awaken their inner power by themselves?

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