Create the environment for people to act empowered
Granting authority (and freedom) to someone doesn’t guarantee they will be empowered. If the environment is unsafe, or perceived to be unsafe, then the fear factor is likely to be too great for that person to speak up or take action. It feels like empowerment is something that comes from the environment itself. It’s constructed between people, by the actions they take individually in the (physical and mental) space they occupy.
Having the right environment is essential. When it’s safe and fun people are motivated by trust. They begin to demonstrate the courage to be creative and they take risks and make mistakes. An environment that tolerates mistakes to cultivate learning helps people face their fears and act decisively. And when people are able to perform freely they become energized and create a buzz.
Empowerment is not something that can be assigned. I can’t give you empowerment and you can’t give it to me. So don’t try to empower people. Concentrate on creating the right environment for people to construct their own empowerment and step back.