The Science of Power and Empowerment, with Irene Sinteur - MS012

Meeting Strategist - Conversations on Leadership & Communication

Oct 2 2019 • 54 mins

Irene Sinteur and I talk about the science of empowerment, the role of power in team collaboration, how to take up the issue of autonomy with your manager and why working in self-steering teams doesn’t come naturally to us. If you want actionable tips on how to create better meetings, check out the article that Irene and I released together with this episode

Irene is an expert in empowerment, autonomy and power dynamics in organizations. In 2018, she completed her PhD research on the role of power in autonomous groups. Irene and I are both deeply inspired by the work of the late Dutch social psychologist Mauk Mulder, who was a great friend and mentor of mine.

Mauk is also the person who brought us together. Years ago, he mentioned Irene’s research to me and suggested that I really had to get in touch with her. Only recently, I rediscovered the note with Irene’s name on it, reached out to her via LinkedIn - and here we are recording an episode and writing blogs together.

Here are some of the episode’s highlights with timestamps:

  • 3:41 – How to help dominant and non-dominant team members listen to each other

  • 16:38 – “The only way to empower people is to really give them power”

  • 20:45 – Why working in autonomous teams doesn’t come naturally to us

  • 34:43 – For leaders, autonomy begins with letting go

  • 44:08 – Decision-making in autonomous teams: seeking consent rather than consensus

  • 50:00 – How to handle unproductive power differences in autonomous teams

For more information and links related to this episode, please go to the full show notes at

About this podcast

Welcome to Meeting Strategist. On this podcast, Marcel van de Hoef interviews professionals and thinkers from the worlds of investment, business and arts about their approach to business conversations. You'll hear inspiring stories about impactful meetings, while also learning about the strategies, tactics and mindsets these guests rely on to make meetings more constructive.

Marcel is an Amsterdam-based communication advisor and trainer and the curator of the Meeting Strategist blog. His mission is to help senior professionals think more strategically about meetings, ask better questions, improve their listening skills and have more meaningful conversations in business and life. Learn more and stay up to date at