When empowerment ends badly

Research shows that the success of empowerment initiatives depends on the type of leader implementing them.

by Stephen Jones

Over recent years it has become common knowledge that giving staff greater autonomy can boost engagement, creativity and output. As a result companies have been introducing initiatives in the hope that they will empower their staff. 

For some, this has been based on the principle that creating more empowered leaders - i.e. by giving them the freedom to manage their teams in the way that they want to - will in turn filter down and lead to employees feeling more empowered as a result. 

A new study sought to test that hypothesis and found that while having more autonomous managers can boost productivity and engagement of those in their teams, it can also lead to some unintended consequences, depending on the type of manager implementing it. 

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