We’ve been really busy in recent weeks with all sorts of varied work for clients – the diversity of the challenges we face is one of the most enjoyable parts of working for Sheridan Resolutions. When you have seemingly disparate challenges to deal with, it’s natural to look for common factors causing them – and their possible resolution. Currently, I see “empowerment” running through many workplace situations, like a word running through a stick of seaside rock.


Mediation, for example, has long been seen as a means to promote the empowerment of its participants. But what does empowerment mean in practice? In mediation, empowerment surely means individual growth and a new feeling of confidence to find one’s voice in potentially difficult future situations. This personal development does not occur straight away, nor is it an inevitable outcome of mediation. Today, therefore, the mediator needs to think not only about the mediation in front of them, but also keep an eye to the future by creating the environment in which each individual’s growth will be actively encouraged once the present challenges are resolved.


In executive coaching, empowerment is all about helping individuals to bring improved levels of performance to their existing and future roles. One of my favourite quotes, from the executive coaching pioneer Sir John Whitmore, is that “Coaching [unlocks] a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” A skilful coach helps individuals to remove or reduce internal obstacles to their performance, so that their natural ability is empowered thereafter.