MICHAEL happened to notice an article sitting on his desk. The title caught his attention: “Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute.” In spite of his recent skepticism, this title intrigued him and he started reading the article. The author insisted that empowerment works, but it takes courage and time to get there. The article stated that you can’t tell people to act empowered and expect them to just do it— exactly what he had done six months ago. If they have little or no past experience or involvement in decision making, they won’t know what to do. They may talk like they want to make more decisions about their work, but they will not be comfortable with the downside risk of responsibility.

Citing an example of one company’s ...

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