The Empowerment Patterns Inventory

In each of the five groups below, write an 8 on the line preceding the sentence that best describes you. Then write a 1 on the line preceding the sentence that least accurately describes you. Finally, write the numbers 2 through 7 on the appropriate lines within each cluster. Do not leave any lines blank, and do not use any number more than once.

Group 1

______  1.  I am very sensitive to other peoples’ discomfort.

______  2.  I have high standards, and make sure that everyone knows about them.

______  3.  I often smile even when I may not feel like doing so.

______  4.  I have a somewhat blank face that doesn’t betray my feelings.

______  5.  Other people say that my clothes are unusual.

______  6.  I have lots of battle scars and bruises.

______  7.  My desk is piled high with papers, but they are all neatly stacked.

______  8.  I am very successful.

Group 2

______  9.  I am willing to postpone getting what I want.

______  10.  Other people often describe me as being an overachiever.

______  11.  I usually nod when other people are speaking.

______  12.  I am usually very quiet or even silent in meetings.

______  13.  My personal style makes me fun to be around.

______  14.  My communication is energetic and easy to understand.

______  15.  I tend to be very respectful toward people in positions of authority.

______  16.  Someday, I would like to be a teacher.

Group 3

______  17.  I believe that my reward may not come until my next job.

______  18.  I quietly judge other people who don’t meet my standards.

______  19.  I often use humour to connect with other people at work.

______  20.  I believe in minimal sharing of information.

______  21.  When it comes to meetings, I’m the last to arrive and the first to leave.

______  22.  I don’t like evaluating other peoples’ performance.

______  23.  My pictures frequently show me wearing dress clothing.

______  24.  I generally arrive early at meetings.

Group 4

______  25.  If I help others with their problems, I believe that they will then give me what I     

______  26.  I like my clothes to be colour coordinated, so that mismatching is impossible.

______  27.  My main concern is to be like the person who supervises me at work.

______  28.  I use very little humour at work.
______  29.  I am technically bright, and have enough talent to survive problems.

______  30.  Any kind of “touchy-feely” stuff makes me very uncomfortable.

______  31.  I like lots of order and structures in my life.

______  32.  I have an elaborate filing system for my office.

Group 5

______  33.  Other people are somewhat fragile, and they often need me to rescue them.

______  34.  I want everything around me (desk, clothes, car, home) to be kept clean.

______  35.  I never make strong, explicit demands to get what I want .

______  36.  I try to avoid offending other people.

______ 37.  I prefer to be my own person.

______  38.  Other people generally know exactly where I stand.

______  39.  I believe that being formal and polite is a way of showing sensitivity towards 

______  40.  I like subjects like maths, accounting, and engineering.


  1. Using the scoring grid below, record the number that you assigned to each sentence.
  2. Calculate the total for each of the eight groups of five questions. Your score for each group can be no lower than five and no higher than thirty five.
  3. Finally, identify which group of questions, or pattern, received your highest total and which received the lowest. In many cases your totals will indicate your preference for, or lack of use of, more than one pattern.

                                                   Scoring Grid









































Pattern A

Pattern B

Pattern C

Pattern D

Pattern E

Pattern F

Pattern G

Pattern H

My most preferred pattern is: ____________________________________________


My least preferred pattern is: ____________________________________________



  1. Notice which of the eight patterns above received your highest total. This is the pattern that you prefer to use. Given your preference for this pattern, it is also the one that you are most in danger of using in inappropriate settings. In this sense, your strength can become your area of vulnerability.
  2. Next, notice which of the eight patterns received your lowest total. This is the pattern that you use least frequently. Since this pattern isn’t included in your normal repertoire, situations that are best handled by using this approach will pose a difficult challenge for you to overcome. In this sense, you have a blind spot in this area.
  3. Finally, take a few moments to read the brief description of each pattern.

Pattern A: “Lifesaver”
People who favour this pattern find that for them getting what they want is simply a matter of saving other people. If they help other people resolve their problems, then these people will see that the Lifesaver gets what he or she wants – a classic quid pro quo approach. Of course, this means that  Lifesavers must perceive themselves as being slightly superior to the people they save. It also means that in order for Lifesavers to feel empowered they first need a constant supply of people to save. If the person being rescued doesn’t demonstrate an appropriate level of gratitude, then the Lifesaver must deal with a resulting sense of disappointment and cynicism: “After all I did for them, this is how they thank me?”

Pattern B: “Precisionist”
People who favour this pattern believe that if they appear to be free of all faults, then they will get what they want from other people. Being perfect, behaving correctly, meeting all goals, being respectful toward authority figures, presenting a flawless appearance, making no mistakes, and being the perfect employee combine to mark the path to entitlement. This pattern makes it difficult for others to find fault with the people who use it, thereby disempowering those who may potentially pose a threat. Unfortunately, the pattern also makes it difficult for Precisionists to learn from their mistakes, since they don’t make any.

Pattern C: “Delighter”
People who favour this pattern, get what they want from other people by making them happy. Smiling a lot, being quick to apologise, behaving pleasantly, using humour, fitting in, using good interpersonal skills, always being positive, and adopting a compatible appearance are all means to the end of empowering the Delighter. On the other hand, this pattern requires its adherents to deny natural feelings such as conceit, arrogance, anger and contempt. It can also lead Delighters to feel that they give something to others that others don’t give in return.

Pattern D: Distancer
People who favour this pattern perceive threats all around them. Bosses expect the impossible, jobs are downsized, employers are taken over by larger organizations, and interpersonal relationships exert a variety of pressures. Distancers feel that in order to survive and get what they want, they need to distance themselves from conflict and spend time alone so that they simply disappear from others’ radar screens – if they can’t see me, then they can’t harm me. While using this pattern does lower one’s profile, it also frustrates the human need to experience intimacy and a sense of connectedness with other people.

Pattern E: Mutineer
People who favour this pattern get what they want by rebelling against authority, rules, norms, and structure imposed by others around them. They create their own rules, and proclaim their freedom and independence. They are drawn to conflict and disagreement, and love to argue with other people. However, beneath their contentious surface, Mutineers are dependent on others to impose rules and structure on them since those efforts give rebels something to react against. The Mutineer pattern attempts to deny the normal human need to receive approval from others and commit to something outside of oneself.

Pattern F: Attacker
People who favour the Attacker pattern believe that only the strong survive and get what they want, hence they pursue power. Attackers fear that at the deepest level nothing is really worth holding onto. As a result they continually drive themselves to gain control over new and unfamiliar things. In a sense, they are trying to fill an emptiness within themselves that cannot be filled. This pattern can produce a profound level of personal isolation since it attempts to deny the wish many people have tnd faithfully adhereo be dependent and controlled – to “escape from freedom ,” as Erich Fromm put it.

Pattern G: Bureaucrat
People who favour this pattern are drawn to rules, policies, structure and order. They avoid conflict and are polite, respectful, and interpersonally distant. Their exacting approach demonstrates the bureaucrat’s objectivity, detachment, precision, and impartiality. Bureaucrats get what they want by being hyper-aware of the rules imposed by others, which they strictly and faithfully observe. This pattern attempts to deny the confusion and chaos surrounding Bureaucrats, and produces a loss of passion, excitement, active commitment, willingness to change and love.

Pattern H: Intellectual
People who favour this pattern prefer a ‘hard’ world composed of complex ideas, abstractions, logic, theoretical models, designs, data sets, and research studies. They turn away from ‘soft’ areas such as intuition, feelings, emotions, and subjectivity. This pattern helps Intellectuals get what they want by making it difficult for others to prove them wrong. It also ignores the emotional side of other people, thereby making it difficult for the patterns’ adherents to make intimate connections with other people.


What should I know about using empowerment patterns?

Block contends that we truly act in an empowered manner only when we choose the empowerment pattern that we use in a given situation, and do so without using that pattern purely as a means to get what we want. We must also be careful to not allow other people’s actions to trigger our actions, since doing that is a sure sign of our nonempowerment state. When we consciously choose our empowerment pattern for its own sake, and do so in a way that is not a reaction to someone else’s actions, then we are well on the way to empowering ourselves
Some people feel uneasy about empowerment, since they interpret it as possibly hindering team effectiveness. From this perspective, empowered team members view themselves as being autonomous and are not able to subordinate their perceived individualism to the needs of the group. Block believes that this fear is misplaced. When people join a team because they fear that they cannot succeed on their own, he notes, that severely undermines the team’s potential success. Simply put, a team composed of dependent members is a weak team. In contrast, empowered team members come together feeling strong and carry out their assigned tasks in a corresponding manner. A strong team has strong individual members.

On the other hand, Block cautions, there are times in our work lives when we are appropriately dependent. This include such normal activities as soliciting information about the basics of our business; asking for feedback from our bosses, customers, and colleagues; establishing a sense of connectedness with our coworkers; and establishing relationships with high-level benefactors or mentors. In these and other similar instances, it is appropriate for us to allow others’ input and wishes to shape our thinking and behavior.

Finally, Block discusses three ‘acts of courage’ that can help empowered people act courageously and with compassion instead of indulging themselves with aggressive, rebellious or uncooperative behavior.

  1. See things as they really are. Avoid making excuses, offering explanations, or pursuing illusions. It takes too much energy to feel crazy, weak and powerless
  2. On your own contribution to the problem. The only thing we can control is our actions. Blaming others for our problems simply makes us feel helpless, and solves nothing.
  3. Put into words what you see happening, and say what needs to be said to those who need to hear i

How do I put what I learned here into practice?

  • What is your preferred empowerment pattern? How do you use that pattern – for its own sake, or as a means to get what you want from other people?
  • Are you satisfied with the way in which you use your preferred pattern? If so, how can you build on your success? If not, how can you improve the way in which you use the pattern?
  • What empowerment pattern appears to get the best results in your organisation? Which appears to work least well? In both cases, why? What does your answer tell you about your organisation?
  • What challenges will you have to overcome in implementing Block’s model of authentic empowerment in your organisation? How will you go about overcoming these challenges?
  • Is your preferred empowerment pattern the same in work and non-work settings? What differences can you see in the patterns that you use in these two settings? Does either pattern feel more natural to you when you are using it?