The Chicken and Egg Of Empowerment

A Critical Doer capitalizes on opportunities to be better 

“The future we have is the one we’re willing to make for ourselves”

Critical Doer Creed


em·pow·er  (ĕm-pou′ər)


  1. Toinvest with power, especially legal power or official authority.
  2. Toequip or supply with an ability; enable:

 There’s an age old philosophical debate about which came first…the chicken or the egg.  This same argument can be applied to the coveted condition of empowerment.  Everyone wants to be empowered with decision space and decision making authority in their work, and most times bosses are vilified as micro-managers and tyrants if that condition does not exist; sometimes those monikers are rightly earned, sometimes they’re not.  Our question in preparation for a new week is which came first…empowerment or empowered performance?

The answer is…it depends, as you may expect from a Critical Doer that shuns binary choices.  Sometimes you can start fully empowered to do a job.  If you fail to meet expectations, you can expect to see your empowerment erode or perhaps even be dismissed.  Sometimes you can start in a pure task completion environment and as you meet expectations see your empowerment grow.  No matter how it starts, the ending is in your hands and determined by whether or not you deliver “empowered performance.”

Here are some ways you can deliver empowered performance through critical thinking and doing at home or work and find greater fulfillment in your efforts:

  1. Do your very best today. It’s unrealistic to expect more authority, more influence, more latitude, or more pay in the future if you are failing to meet today’s expectations.  You can’t control the future, but you can control the level of effort you give in making the very best today that you can.  Never forget…every path to the future begins with today so always do your best.
  2. Communicate.  To expand your sphere of influence, your Boss needs to understand how you think in order to responsibly empower you.  Talk with your Boss about not only problems you are facing on the job but solutions that can bring improvements for everyone as well as the bottom line.  When your communication turns from complaints to solutions, you’re in a position to be empowered.
  3. Own your circumstances and take some risk. Think about this for a moment…if you’re in an entry level position and you don’t eventually demonstrate capability for thinking…repeat…thinking…beyond the task level, don’t expect further empowerment.  You will have to take some risk to grow your empowerment, and a great way to do it can be found in David Marquet’s book Turn the Ship Around!  In his leadership lessons from commanding the nuclear submarine Santa Fe, Marquet introduces the phrase “I intend to” as a way subordinates can show initiative in a structured environment.  For example, you could say “Boss, I intend to do accomplish this task differently because it will be cheaper and takes half the time.”  You will likely get your way, clearly demonstrate initiative, communicate with your Boss to let him/her be part of the solution, and rapidly expand your empowerment.


If you are not feeling empowered in your current job or even at home, I encourage you to apply the three steps for empowered performance.  Much like the future, you can’t control your Boss but you can control your performance. Start today and make your own transformation from employee to an empowered Critical Doer.  That’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


Note:  this is my 100th post on!  Thanks to all the readers who follow the blog and put the principles of the critical doer in action to make life better for themselves and everyone around them.


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Updated: June 28, 2015 — 12:27 pm