Article-Dr V V Desai

Empowerment  Key to Business Boon

True, name counts. One can notice a change in behavior and work style of an employee once he/she is addressed as member or participant. He/she, then, owns and enjoys the work, and most unlikely to disown its onus. This freedom enjoins with the right to work. Verily, empowerment is a right of a worker in the work.

Purpose, whether it is self-determined or assigned gives meaning to work that one performs. Hence, the purpose defines what part of the work. But it cannot be performed unless its how part is also defined and determined by its doer. If the doer is made free to choose his own way of doing the work, with zeal, interest and onus, he is most likely to perform it effectively. Empowerment implies that the how part of the job ought to be solely left to the discretion of an individual doer/member. Absence of discretion is both detestable and contestable.

In every human system, whether a firm, company, corporation, or an organization, when any goal-defined work is assigned to any worker, in all probability, he/she denies freedom to choose his/ her ways of performing it. The purpose and its practice both are prescribed for him. Managers rarely see a demarcating line between job specification and job designing. The latter is a first step in empowerment, which is detested by most bosses.

The Gita ordains for empowerment of the doer in its following verse.

Karmanyeva aadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadhachan. 2-47

It is declared that the doer has the right (Adhikar) in work (Karmanyeva) but has no (Ma) right on its output (Phalaeshu). Pertinently, the term Karmani is plural. It is because almost every one has a work-schedule listing numerous jobs for performance arising out of his / her occupation, position, relations, situation, and the individual goal for attainment. Mostly those jobs cant be delegated or transferred to others. When the onus of their performance exclusive rests upon the doer, his /her right to decide and act surely becomes fundamental and absolute. Dennis Bakke CEO of AES, toeing this line once said, œThe trade-off is worth because of the sense of control and total responsibility that the people feel when they really own their decisions.

Next term in the above verse is Adhikar implying right, claim or authority. He/she who has the duty must have the equal right to perform his task, because both duty and right are the two sides of the same coin. It is incongruous to withhold the right while enforcing performance of the duty. Nevertheless, empowerment is not just free-for-all. People empowered are accountable and responsible for their actions. A driver of a car, for example, by virtue of the nature of his job, has a right to occupy the drivers seat, to possess and use keys to engine, to drive and is equally accountable to maintain it.

Empowerment is not a slogan but a slow gun that kills inertia, indifference and alienation of worker from his work. It evidently evokes spirit and urge with commitment for enhanced performance. Empowered organizations are live houses of autonomy and trust where people own responsibility for their work and organizations performance. Roger Sant observes, œBut empowerment makes it safer-not riskier. And adds further that world will work better if people are empowered and empowerment without values isnt empowerment. The voice, however, for empowerment is still inaudible. Chris Argyris, a well-known management thinker, laments with these words,Empowerment is a lip service and a false promise nothing more. Sarcastically, H. Mintzberg, a renowned expert in organizational architecture, says, œPeople dont empower because it is logically and intrinsically built into their jobs; they get it as gift from the gods who sit atop those charts.

Thus, the Gita rightly presents the concept of empowerment whereby the member is entitled to choose his own way of performing the work with the assigned goal or sub-goal. Excuses crop up in absence of empowerment.


Dr. Vasant V. Desai

M.Com.Ph.D. F.I.C.W.A. and the Gold Medalist from the Nagpur University . Retired as the Professor in Financial Management from the Staff College of the National Textile Corporation in 2001.

He has been exploring the concepts of management in shrimadbhagavadgita since last twenty years. Wrote five books one being on the Management Principles in Hindi which god the Sardar Patel Prize from the Government of India .