‘Empowering’ is a rather over-used word these days. As is ‘enabling’. I’ve watched people empowering and enabling their colleagues and team members for years, where it amounts to no more than telling them what to do, and then checking on their progress too frequently.
If you actually want to see what someone is capable of, you need to provide some initial guidance, tuition, coaching, and monitoring. But at some point you have got to get out of the way and see what happens.
Sometimes, bad things happen, and then your role is to support the individual, providing coaching, training, and options for what they should do.
Other times, and it happens often in the companies I work with, once the manager has stood out of the way, they see a person flourish. Their colleague comes up with new ways of doing things, they stretch their goals, and inspire people around them. They achieve more than they thought they could. They achieve much more than their manager ever thought.
That’s why responsible managers must get good at letting s*** happen. Because it’s often really, really, good s***.