Be careful of the tendency to say, “I have no choice but to…” As a leader, you must model responsible language that is forward moving, absent of blame and promotes empowerment. The absence of choice equals powerlessness. The experience or perception of powerlessness in the workplace contributes to a victim mindset which is very difficult to reverse without coaching to empowerment, a process I use with my coaching clients, and teach to leaders who want to create a culture of responsibility.

There are in fact some areas of life and even circumstances where we have no choice, and we’ve all been there. We lose someone or something. We are faced with uncertainty in our career when we thought it was stable. Our kids disappoint us. We find out our health is in danger. In these situations it’s easy to lose hope–to feel powerless.However in each moment we always have choices even if we don’t see them. Sometimes the best choice is to get help. Sometimes the best choice is to be quiet. Sometimes the best choice is to live in the unknown for a period of time.

If we fail to see our choices we react in ways to avoid the pain of the uncertain and unknown. We over-eat, charge up the credit cards, drink too much. The most empowering question when faced with discomfort, pain, or uncertainty is, “What are my choices?” The most empowering question you can ask your employee is “What are your choices?” When you find your choice you are back in your power.