Empowerment takes place when an individual accepts or takes power in a situation. Power can be assigned or earned, but empowerment must be accepted. It was helpful to reflect back to the week we spent differentiating between groups and networks as I considered how individuals behave in these environments. Based on some of the components discussed earlier, I see group power taking the form of leadership by a recognized authority. Whereas, network power may be distributed and/or negotiated. It is also more likely to change based on situations or the environment. I think power is more complex in a network. There may be individuals who believe they have power when, in fact, others do not acknowledge it. In other cases, individuals may have power without even recognizing it.
Paul Skidmore offers characteristics of network leadership that helped me consider what it means to wield power in a network for good (rather than evil). Frankly, these are just good leadership principles in general:
- Lead from outside in
- Mobilize disparate supplies of energy
- Foster trust and empower others to act
- Help people grow out of their comfort zone (my personal favorite)
- Lead learners, not all-knowers
- Nurture other leaders