This study investigates empowerment within the under-researched context of banks (Ratmawati, 2007; Spreitzer, 1995) in Malaysia. Specifically, it examines empowerment and its relation to the constructs of leadership behaviour and intrinsic motivation from the narrow perspective of banking organisations of different ownership status (private and government-owned), where a study addressing these issues is lacking (Ergeneli, Ari & Metin, 2007; Holden, 1999; Kappelman, Prybutok & Dran 1996). Additionally, it explores the understanding of empowerment among senior managers and the process of empowerment in banking organisations. A concurrent, embedded, mixed methods strategy is employed, whereby secondary qualitative data from semi-structured interviews are embedded within the primary quantitative data gathered by means of a questionnaire (Creswell, 2009). Quantitative data from 421 and 425 questionnaires administered in a private and a government-owned bank respectively were subjected to a number of statistical techniques and analysed. Qualitative data were collected from six senior managers from each bank and subjected to thematic analysis (King, 2004). There are several important findings. First, there was an overall difference in empowerment across the two banks, with higher levels being evident in the private one. Notwithstanding this difference, favourable feelings of empowerment were in evidence in both banks. The core finding is of a mediation role for leadership behaviour in the relationship between empowerment and intrinsic motivation for the two leadership behaviours, i.e. transformational and empowering leadership. Findings from the qualitative data suggest that participants' strong understanding of empowerment stemmed from the structural approach to empowerment, although attempts at the psychological approach were also acknowledged. Two main constraints on empowerment were highlighted: lack of acceptance by employees and inadequate systems of monitoring.The findings add considerably to knowledge at the theoretical, methodological and practical levels. Theoretically, the study fundamentally helps to explore the concept of empowerment, which was developed and evolved in the West, from the perspective of Malaysia, a nation culturally distinctive from Western ones, with a focus on the under-researched area of banking, considering different ownership types, in relation to leadership behaviour and intrinsic motivation. The methodological implication comes from the use of mixed methods as an overarching methodology. The study outlines the practical considerations (two constraints on empowerment) that the programme developer/owner of empowerment should take into account in developing or enhancing empowerment by embedding relevant strategy to tackle the two constraints within the empowerment process itself. Study limitations are highlighted and avenues for future research are explored.