Autonomy as Psychologically Empowering

(Part III of V)

Research studies support Maslow’s Theory that a team member’s autonomy orientation is positively related to his or her psychological empowerment. This autonomy is defined as a person’s “dispositional tendency ‘to be self-regulating’ and to orient toward the interest value of the environment and contextual supports for self-initiation” (Liu, et al, 2011, p. 1306).

Individuals with higher levels of autonomy are expected to actively pursue the accomplishments of their tasks using their psychological empowerment. They are intrinsically motivated to do a great job and to perform above and beyond the expectations of their positions.

Team leaders (managers and supervisors) play an important role in motivating employees. They are persons of authority that are looked upon by the team. They provide directions to the team processes and can influence the development of a team member.

Because of that, the autonomy support from the team leader can also positively relate to a team member’s psychological empowerment. When employees experience psychological empowerment in their work, they become highly motivated individuals and their company retention is increased.

In addition, “empowering leadership is the enzyme that stimulates and nurtures the occurrence of knowledge sharing” (Xue, et al, 2011, p. 302) and enables the team members to have comfortable autonomy by allowing them to discharge their duties in their best abilities.

Practical Application: When you leave your employees alone, you actually empower them psychologically, and they are likely to stay in their jobs. (JAN)


Liu, D., Zhang, S., Wang, L., & Lee, T. W. (2011). The effects of autonomy and empowerment on employee turnover: Test of a multilevel model in teams. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(6), 1305-1316.

Xue, Y., Bradley, J., & Liang, H. (2011). Team climate, empowering leadership, and knowledge sharing. Journal of Knowledge Management, 15(2), 299-312.


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