Strategic Market Leadership

Delegating Responsibility and Authority

Wed, 2013-07-31 05:27 -- tomjonez


We continue the conversation on delegating to others – which is a key strategy for a growing organization.  A central principle in looking at this topic is the critical linkage between responsibility and authority.

The graph, above, is a prime example of the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words" because it illustrates a simple insight:

Responsibility and Authority must be connected in equal and full measure when delegating tasks to others.

From the graph above we observe the following:

1.  Limited measures of responsibility and authority delegated to others results in apathy.  Such lethargy occurs because the person is under-utilized; they don't have enough personal "skin in the game."

2.  Providing a large measure of authority to a person without assigning corresponding responsibility removes accountability - and can therefore result in a dictatorial or tyrannical climate for those impacted by the one to whom the authority was granted. Is it even necessary to state that this is a bad idea?!

3.  A more common mistake is to assign a large share of responsibility to a person without providing the authority to fully carry out their assignment(s).  The result is frustration - for everyone.

4.  The optimal approach: Delegate a full measure of both authority and responsibility.  Doing so produces a multiplication of effort - the person who is assigned significant responsibility and granted the appropriate and corresponding authority becomes fully engaged - and is truly empowered to carry out their role effectively.

What have you observed? Does the chart above connect to what you have experienced?  Let us know so we can continue to learn together.