Empowerment as a term is widely used and often misinterpreted; as a genuine action, it is difficult to put into practice. Empowerment is really about offering and receiving commitment so it is important to recognize that there are two kinds of commitment: external and internal.

External commitment

External commitment occurs when employees have little control over their destinies and are accustomed to working under the command-and-control model.

Examples of external commitment:

  • Tasks and the behavior to perform tasks are defined by others.
  • Performance goals are defined by management.
  • Goal importance is defined by others.
Internal commitment

Internal commitment occurs when employees are committed to a particular project, person, or program for their own reasons or motivations. Internal commitment is very closely allied with empowerment.

Examples of internal commitment:

  • Individuals define tasks and the behavior required to perform tasks.
  • Management and individuals jointly define challenging performance goals.
  • Individuals define the importance of the goal.

Consider ways that you can support your employees in developing an internal commitment to the work that you do. And, the ways you can also enhance your own commitment.