B.A.L.A.N.C.E. Authority with Responsibility

Monday, September 17 2012

A leader who balances authority and responsibility throughout the organization will experience great satisfaction.

Authority is the power to decide and act; as well as to direct the decisions and actions of others. The scope and impact of a leader’s organizational decisions and actions profoundly impact every stakeholder.

There are four levels of authority in an organization, and ideally, individuals in every position are offered the opportunity to progress to the next level:

  1. Act from instruction:  At this level the individual implements decisions made by others.  There is no choice.
  2. Act after approval:  The person weighs factors and acts only after their manager approves.
  3. Decide, inform and act:  Power to decide is added, but people remain accountable to someone else.
  4. Decide and act:  Provides complete authority.

Responsibility means accepting the consequences for your own decisions and actions, and for those to whom you have delegated. Responsibility requires transparency about decisions, actions, execution and results. It demands fair assessment of successes and shortfalls. Monthly reports to the leadership team represent a powerful tool for ensuring responsibility in an organization.

Keep authority and responsibility in B.A.L.A.N.C.E.

Balance the welfare of all stakeholders. Treat employees, suppliers and society as you do customers.

Assure everyone acts with confidence in their work environment. Give them the training they need to meet increasing responsibility. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, and attribute shortfalls accurately to actions and to outside circumstances.

Let everyone know the decisions they can make, with what level of authority, and to whom results are to be reported.

Act quickly to correct situations where people either bear consequences without equivalent power or have power without being responsible to anyone. When individuals feel they bear consequence without power, they tend to hide negative results. Power without consequences can lead to unethical decisions for personal gain.

Never let anyone, especially yourself, hide behind lack of transparency or too much data.

Celebrate successes and come clean with mistakes. Celebrate the success of others first and admit your mistakes first.

Expect the best from everyone and give them the tools they need to deliver, so that they will expect the best from themselves. Humans tend to meet the expectations of those they respect.

Balance authority and responsibility in your organization and your job becomes easier, you spend less time looking over shoulders, results improve dramatically, and your satisfaction increases.