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How To Empower Yourself At Work

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Have you ever wondered how many people fail to accomplish what they could because they feel powerless? Did you ever realize that some people feel powerless even if they truly have power in themselves? Who do you think has greater power: the president of a country or the surgeon about to make a triple bypass operation on him?

In reality, power is situational. Babies are powerless in the sense that they cannot feed or care for themselves and yet they manage to get food or diaper change whenever they want. The president of a company has the power to influence all others in his organization because he sits at the “top of the pyramid.” His power resides in his title.

Ordinary employees seem powerless in the face of the awesome power of the president of an organization. So are the babies in the face of the almighty power of their parents, and yet babies can have the power to get what they want. What’s the difference between the employees and babies? Employees know that they don’t have power and so they are powerless. Babies don’t know that they don’t have the power and so they wield power, albeit “dependent power” over their parents.

In the workplace, the lines of power are clearly drawn and this tends to “intimidate” employees. But what truly render employees powerless are a number of mental roadblocks that employees must be aware of.


Here are few mindsets that keep people powerless even if they shouldn’t be.

  • Authority. Since birth, we have been subjected to several forms of authority-parents, teachers, officers in class organizations, fraternity or sorority officers and other forms of “bosses”. We have always equated power with authority, position, title and role. We thought that if we don’t have any of these, we are mere powerless followers.

    Not so! Develop your competence in what you do, wherever you are in the organization’s totem pole. If you master your job well, you can be the authority on it-not your boss. If you are a master in your chosen field of specialization, you wield power, with or without the position or title.

  • Assertiveness. Let me give you the bad news straight. If you are compliant, submissive and dependent upon your boss, he will think that you lack leadership, initiative, and communication skills that are needed for managerial positions. But, since the day you applied for a job, you were given the impression that what the organization needs are people who are obedient, loyal and compliant.

    On the other hand, if you try to be assertive, your boss will think you are too aggressive and a threat to his position. What to do? Assert your right, take the initiative, help your boss do his job, and make him good so that he can be promoted. If you’ve been helping your boss do his job, who do you think will he recommend as his replacement?

  • Accessibility. Here’s another bad news. Being always available can backfire in your career. Too much accessibility will make you very ordinary. People who are always available are usually the clerks or assistants who cater the needs of the greater mass of employees. Learn the art of making yourself “scarce” occasionally. “Get lost” in order to think quietly and creatively, benchmark with the best and show innovations in your job.

    But beware of too much absence. In business organizations, absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder-it makes it forget. Make sure that you’re not forgotten when it’s time for bonuses, salary increases or promotions. Learn to package yourself in such way that your boss will think that your present group will not miss you if he promotes you to a more responsible position.

  • Approval. We feel good when other people appreciate what we do, sometimes to the point that we try to always please other people with what we do. The moment you begin to work in order to get approval or appreciation, you give others power over you. Instead of doing your best, you tend to do what you think is best in the eyes of others.

    We also tend to be sensitive to feedback from others. As for me, I’ll do my job the best way I can, based on agreed standards and specifications. When I get feedback about my work from other people, I don’t get affected. Feedback tells me more about the person talking than about the work I did.

    If you want power, look inside you. The more you are not attached to external matters, the greater awareness you will have of the powers that you have. You don’t need other people to bestow powers upon you. Truly, the first step to gaining power is self-awareness.

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