Empowering and Enabling LO5375

Hays, Joe (HAYS@volpe1.dot.gov)
Mon, 05 Feb 96 11:33:00 EST

Replying to LO5321 --

Ginger Shafer mentioned the book Enlightened Leadership and relayed the
authors' supposition that twenty percent of individuals assessed (?) are
intrinsically motivated, demonstrate initiative, and are self-directed.
I'll have to read the book for myself, and assess the means used to
generate the data and its interpretation.

The data corroborate Ginger's experience and, to some degree, my own. I
am not prepared to put numbers to the population, however. More
importantly (and not having read the book I am obviously unaware of the
authors' point of view,) I am concerned about the implications of drawing
from the synopsis that "[only] twenty percent of people are [have the
capacity or potential for?] intrinsically motivated and self-directed."

As Ginger notes, people have power, but it often requires much enabling to
see it manifest. Enablement involves both individual preparation and
creating an environment in which empowerment can thrive. And, it doesn't
emerge on its own!

This does not mean that "people" are unmotivated or incapable of
self-direction. What it does mean, for many people at least, is that the
environment has not been conducive to their development as effective
individuals. To change this we cannot blame the individual, nor expect
change overnight. The environment must (a) equip individuals with skills
and confidence, (b) provide them the opportunity for practice and
increasing responsibility, and (c) reward them appropriately as they
increasing demonstrate ability, initiative, and acceptance of
responsibility. The learning organization ensures these opportunities
exist for everyone.

Ginger was responding, in part, to Alan Mossman's LO submission on
empowerment and enablement. Alan's analogies to lack of liquid
refreshment and the fact that you can lead a horse to water, but can't
make him drink provide useful, concrete means for thinking about
empowerment. He mentions three essentials to empowerment (desire, skill,
and opportunity). I agree (though I label desire "motivation"). And, he
includes the important ingredient "goals" (implying individual and
organizational goal congruence).

What seems to be missing is the feedback loop to desire. Desire or
motivation for many activities is not something born in, something one
either possesses or does not. Motivation is fed by the environment. Thus,
I am uncertain as the point Alan makes when he decries empowerment and
motivation in the UK as "extrinsic" which he describes as "manipulation."
I'd like to hear more about this.

The exploration of empowering conditions seems worthwhile, including a
comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and their effects.

J. Martin Hays: hays@volpe1.dot.gov

"Hays, Joe" <HAYS@volpe1.dot.gov>
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