This study explored the process of how power is exercised in nurse–manager relationships in the hospital setting, to better understand what fosters and constrains staff nurse empowerment. Semi-structured interviews and participant observations were conducted with 26 participants in a hospital in Western Canada. Seeking connectivity was the basic social process in which nurses strive to connect with their manager to create a workable partnership in the provision of high-quality patient care while responding to the demands of the organizational context. The overarching finding was that the manager plays a critical role in modifying the work environment for nurses and, as such, nurses seek connection with their manager. Findings revealed two patterns within the process of seeking connectivity: (a) in the absence of a meaningful engagement with the manager, power was held over nurses through institutional patterns of behaviour and practices, and nurses employed a variety of resistance strategies; (b) when managers provided guidance and engaged nurses as co-collaborators, power was shared and nurses were able to influence patient outcomes positively. The results of this study support Laschinger's program of research on nurse empowerment from an organizational perspective, and advance nurse empowerment from a critical perspective.