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  • Tamar Balkin

Is Psychological Empowerment A Valuable Tool For Enhancing Your Effectiveness As A Leader?


 

“Do you think you’re better off alone?

Talk to me”


Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay (Click here for the  song) 


 

Difficult Roads Lead to Beautiful Destinations
Photo by Nik on Unsplash

“Psychological empowerment may be defined as a cognitive, subjective and motivational process by which individuals perceive themselves as effective and competent for carrying out tasks, with sufficient capacity to ensure their completion. Moreover, the tasks themselves are deemed relevant and meaningful, and individuals feel they have freedom of choice about them.”


Llorente-Alonso, M., García-Ael, C. and Topa, G 


 

Creating psychological empowerment:


Researchers have found that policies procedures and structures can have a powerful influence on the attitudes and behaviours of employees.  Psychological empowerment increases when there are real rewards, trust and support. 


True empowerment comes from providing staff with the skills, resources, authority, opportunity, and motivation to do their jobs well. Holding them responsible and accountable for the outcomes of their actions, enhances the development of psychological empowerment in the workplace. 


Researchers have found the following activities enhance psychological empowerment:


- Encouraging participation in discussion and decision-making.

- Appropriate levels of freedom of choice when managing complexity.  

- Removing unnecessary restrictions on tasks or other aspects of work.

- Requesting and respecting opinions.

- Cross-departmental collaboration 

- Delegating authority appropriately

 


 


What are the benefits?


Psychological Empowerment acts as a motivational factor that impacts attitudes and emotions, it typically generates emotional reactions and encourages people to act positively within the organisation.


Researchers have found that psychological empowerment had a significant positive influence on:

- Turnover intention

- Job satisfaction

- Creativity

- Organisational citizenship behaviours

- Innovation

- Career satisfaction

- Increased productivity

- Employee satisfaction

- Organisational commitment

- Energy

- Resilience

- Problem-solving


Employees respond more flexibly to the different situations that may arise, instead of merely obeying rules automatically.


 

A bit about emotional exhaustion/burnout.


Regular readers would know that emotional exhaustion reflects a state in which work resources cannot meet work demands.  Empowered employees perceive having more resources which researchers have found when coupled with psychological safety and organisational connection, reduces the likelihood of burnout.   



 

What can go wrong?


Researchers have found that when the leader assumes that psychological empowerment is a panacea to all workplace issues their efforts will fail. Misreading the complexity of a role and the employees’ confidence and knowledge to be successful will decrease employee motivation.  Irrespective of how adept the leader is at creating opportunities for empowerment if employees perceive the environment as unmodifiable they may feel powerless and decrease their effort. Uncertainty regarding strategic goals, role expectations, and inadequate delineation of boundaries can induce stress and impede employees' sense of accomplishment. 


Researchers have found that an empowering climate may generate feelings of stress amongst employees who believe it is inappropriate for workers at lower levels of the hierarchy to have a significant say in their work.


 

Final thanks to the team at Fit1 Rose Bay for playing "Better Off Alone" during one of my gym classes this week.  It provided me with some fun lyrics for this blog and a reminder that overly independent workers, still need support and collaboration.



 

References: 


Llorente-Alonso, M., García-Ael, C. and Topa, G. (2023). A meta-analysis of psychological empowerment: Antecedents, organizational outcomes, and moderating variables. Current Psychology. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-023-04369-8.


 Arogundade, O.T. and Arogundade, A.B. (2015). Psychological Empowerment in the Workplace: Implications for Employees’ Career Satisfaction. North American Journal of Psychology, 17(1), p.27.


‌Aziz, N. M. A., Abdul Wahab, S. R., Shaari, R., Sarip, A., & Mohd Arif, L. S. (2024). The Effect of Psychological Empowerment on The Relationship Between Perceived Organizational Support and Career Satisfaction at Manufacturing Sector in Johor. SAGE Open14(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440231221131


Prabowo, R., Mustika, M.D. and Sjabadhyni, B. (2018). How a Leader Transforms Employees’ Psychological Empowerment Into Innovative Work Behavior. Psychological Research on Urban Society, 1(2), p.90. doi:https://doi.org/10.7454/proust.v1i2.32.


‌Zhou, H. and Chen, J. (2021). How Does Psychological Empowerment Prevent Emotional Exhaustion? Psychological Safety and Organizational Embeddedness as Mediators. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.546687.


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