EMPOWERMENT AND PEACE ORGANIZATIONS

Based on the book "Empowerment Takes More Than A Minute" by Ken Blanchard, John P. Carlos and Alan Randolph; Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.; ISBN 1:881052-83-4. We recommend you read this book for full details.

I was asked to lead a workshop of "Linking Youth and the Peace Movement". In doing so, I wished to link the inherent dilemmas and paradoxes in attracting and motivating any volunteers with our very important task of empowering people in general. I do so using a number of generalizations.

Dilemmas and Paradoxes

- while peace organizations are generally very good in their special area, often they are not so good in leadership, human resource management, information management and financial management. In fact, to many peace people leadership is a "four letter word" (because they do not wish to appear to be telling people what to do).
- peace organizations are often busy (no time); have no money; are often activity oriented rather than results oriented; and often "self-centred" 
- the world of peace, conflict and violence is changing so rapidly
- we are old in our thinking, not keeping up with change -- "change or go bankrupt" = you need to be client driven, cost effective, fast and flexible, continuously improving
- peace organizations' thinking is the first thing that has to change
- when you empower you get a different job: the linking pin = your new role is coordinating efforts, acquiring resources, strategic planning, working with clients, coaching people, and the like. Everything you do is to help your people be more effective. Now you work for them rather than them working for you = colleagues and co-learners

meanwhile:

- youth are enthusiastic beginners (they don't know a lot, but they are eager and highly motivated) and, initially, youth need a lot of direction and support
- then they become "disillusioned learners" (they realize how much they do not know, get frustrated) and they need a lot of coaching and support
- youth have a tremendous potential: Ryan Hreliac, 9, has raised $700,000 for 'Ryan's Wells' (providing clean water in Africa http://www.peace.ca/1stannualcanadian.htm ); Craig Kielburger, as a teenager, launched Free the Children and has raised millions of dollars http://www.peace.ca/secondpeaceawards.htm  
- youth want freedom, but need guidelines and guidance
- often youth do know more than "us" (and have that "can do" attitude)
- youth thrive on change
- youth want respect
- youth do not know what they should expect from their leaders

The Case for Empowerment

- definition: empowerment is not "giving power to people" -- people already have plenty of power (in their wealth of their knowledge and motivation); rather it is releasing the knowledge, experience, and motivation they already have
- empowered people are independent (in their thinking and economically) = freedom
- effectively peace organizations are endeavouring to empower people = so we better know how
- recognizing the world will pass you by if you do not change is half the battle
- if we are to be competitive, our organizations have to be places where people are glad to show what they can do = empowerment starts at the top; but don't wait for your leaders, empower yourself
- benefits of empowerment: WIIFM = What's In It For Me = help everyone reach their potential; make them winners; increased satisfaction; attitude change from 'have to' to 'want to'; greater commitment; better communications; more effective decision making; improved quality of service; reduced operating costs; more sustainable organization

How to Empower

- empowerment has a sense of ownership at its core and it starts with the belief system of top management
- it takes time, its difficult, it foreign
- leaders and followers need to learn how
- have trust in the journey
- the Three Keys: 1. Share Information; 2. Create Autonomy Through Boundaries; 3. Replace the Hierarchy with Self-Directed Teams and People

1. Share Information:
- share information with everyone
- success depends on team effort = there is no superior and subordinate (each has different things to bring)
- information is bringing down walls all over the world = it will bring down your organization if you do not know how to use it
- trust is crucial for an empowered organization
- make your organization a safe place for people to think and use their real talents and knowledge
- leaders provide vision; provide a compelling vision and get everyone involved in clarifying it
- build goals from the bottom up
- shared vision and values = decision making faster and easier

2. Create Autonomy Through Boundaries
- people have to learn new ways of thinking and working together
- boundaries have the capacity to channel energy in certain directions
- you want peoples' energy to have direction and impact
- for associates to be effective, they must see both the big picture and their role in achieving that picture
- it is more like being a partner than being told what to do
- vision comes alive when everyone sees where his/her contribution makes a difference
- make them feel important and listen


3. Replace the Hierarchy with Self-Directed Teams and People
- a team of empowered people is far more powerful than a disconnected set of individuals
- everybody acts as a manager (leader)
- people think directive behaviour is telling people how to do their jobs, but our managers put the emphasis on telling us how to manage our jobs
- teach skills for solving problems, managing meetings, managing the team, and handling conflict
- Empowerment comes from teaching others things they can do to become less dependent upon you
- know when not to step in so that somebody else can act
- build self esteem -- brains
- when you give people information and a chance to act like owners they will usually come through
- innovation: permission to take risks, make mistakes, and challenge the way things are done opens up peoples' abilities to learn and use their talents
- shift the definition of a mistake from something bad or wrong to an opportunity to learn and improve = empowers
- peoples' full talents can not be realized unless they feel safe
- in an empowered organization position power means very little ... instead we rely on expertise and relationships and on people taking responsibility for their own actions
- people would rather be magnificent than ordinary = make them winners
- relearn how to take initiative
- once people have the information to understand their current situation, boundaries don't seem like constraints but rather guidelines for action
- structure to release, not inhibit = new rules and boundaries that encourage responsibility, ownership and empowerment
- people can not go from a controlled environment to complete freedom and autonomy overnight
- leadership is not a four letter word (contrary to what most peace people believe) -- in fact we want to make everyone leaders using situational leadership (ref. http://www.peace.ca/peaceleader.htm  )
- empowerment means you have freedom to act; it also means you are accountable for results
- nothing is static in the empowerment process - the boundaries will continue to evolve
- people will define goals for themselves, suggest new roles and improvement
- 4 Basic Rules: 1. Clients are #1 (keep them foremost in our actions); 2. look to the organization's viability/sustainability; 3. be flexible in making quality decisions; 4. keep others in the organization informed
- turn the pyramid upside down for operating decisions
- respect (your 'elders') (everyone's opinions)
- don't give up = persist
- "Asking Memos" vs. "Telling Memos"
- training for Empowerment
- 4 Stages: 1. orientation; 2. dissatisfaction; 3. resolution; 4. production
- use a lot of human relations skills (eg. those people who are ignored become uncooperative)
- continue to grow, develop, stretch

Conclusion

- "in the midst of the leadership vacuum, flickering lights of empowerment shine"
- Empowerment isn't magic. It consists of a few simple steps and a lot of persistence.