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Enable is not a 4-Letter Word

November 23, 2011

The concept of enablement has gotten a bad rap over the years.  How many times have you heard a variation of the phrase “Wow, Joe’s a real enabler!”  Naturally, as we all know, this gets uttered when gossiping talking about a third party (in this case Joe) who’s making accommodations/excuses for another person’s destructive behavior.  The classic scenario is the addict whose codependent spouse cleans up messes, makes apologies and takes steps to ‘help’ their partner.

However, the definition of enable is actually a very positive one:

  • To supply with the means, knowledge or opportunity
  • To make feasible or possible
  • To give someone the opportunity, give someone the means

                                                                                    (from the Free Dictionary)

So let’s take those very same bullet points and add the phrase “managers will to each statement.  (sort of like when you’re out with a group of friends at a Chinese restaurant and you all open your fortune cookies and add “…in bed” at the end of your fortunes and giggle and giggle like a bunch of 13 year olds.  Know what I mean?)

The Manager’s Guide to Enabling

  • Managers will supply their employees with the means, knowledge or opportunity
  • Managers will make things feasible or possible
  • Managers will give everyone the opportunity and give everyone the means

So go ahead managers.  Feel free to enable all you want.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 6:52 am

    I love it, let’s take the negative connotation out of it! Rock it!

  2. Phyllis Hill permalink
    November 23, 2011 8:27 am

    Robin this is so true. If only more managers would take this approach organizations would thrive.

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