Devastating. It's an appropriate word for when an employee or business partner steals your trade secrets or intellectual assets. The problem is growing exponentially but one Washington, D.C.-based security provider uses a unique weapon to fight against corporate espionage--employee empowerment.

Natalie Lehr, co-founder and Director of Analytics for TSC Advantage says the work her employees do is much like battle and uses the maxim "Get off the X" to mean anyone within her company at any level is empowered to do whatever it takes to get to a solution. The idea is to get out of the crosshairs of a potentially disastrous situation.  Here's why Lehr, who has a background in intelligence, says it keeps employees doing their best work to protect the sensitive data of customers.

Real-Time Critical Judgments Mitigate Risk

When it comes to security, risk is everywhere and ignoring it isn't the answer. Just like in a special ops situation, "getting off the X" means doing something right now and not waiting to clear a decision with another person.

As such, Lehr says TSC continuously encourages its employees to make spur-of-the-moment decisions.

"We're not looking for fence-sitters," she says. "And being creative is very important, because one-size-fits-all recommendations fail as soon as they're instituted, particularly in an entrepreneurial environment and small companies."

Inaction is Worse Than Making a Mistake

Lehr says the company's focus on action, productivity and agility attracts skilled workers who appreciate an employer which understands not every tactic will work 100 percent of the time and that it's better to have tried something rather than to have done nothing at all.

"At least in taking an action we can determine if that solution worked. And if it didn't, how do we modify it? In an environment where it's not good enough to wait until damage is suffered and then try to  respond, how is it that we can be more proactive?" she says.

Rewarding Proactivity

TSC encourages its 47 employees to report the proactive behavior of coworkers to program managers who once a quarter give out "Get off the X" awards, some of which are financial.

"There may be insight or details, nuances that their team members see that we as executives don't see on a daily basis. And that lets us incorporate the more tactical level detail into a rewards scenario ... [and] recognize someone's creativity."

Want more examples of companies nailing employee empowerment? Check out Chicago-based GiveForward, which pushes its employees to make decisions and take initiative through its "Be the CEO of your position" mantra, or The Cellular Connection, a nationwide chain of premium Verizon stores that gives employees two paid days off a year to volunteer however they want.