Home > Responsibility > You can delegate your authority but NOT your responsibility

You can delegate your authority but NOT your responsibility

I recently read the blog Be the boss, but don’t be a jerk, by Wally Bock which linked me to a blog by George Cloutier called, Your Company is not a Democracy. These two have some very different ideas on leadership and how decisions are made. The thing I think it is most important for the new leader to realize is it is ALWAYS your decision as a leader\boss\supervisor and you are always responsible for the outcome.

Lets talk about the idea of the benevolent dictator, Cloutier advocates being feared and respected, and goes on to say that your word must be final. Fear is a bit extreme but you must be respected and indeed your word is final because ultimately the responsibility is yours. The employees must know when it is time for debate and when you have made your final decision. Debate must stop and progress made in the direction you as the boss chose. This is the most obvious form of taking responsibility, there is no wiggle room you dictated and your team executed.

The other extreme is the leader who lets employees come to a consensus and then backs them 100%. These leaders practice delegation of authority and some leaders may get the crazy idea that this somehow this relieves them of their responsibility. If the results are good, your team takes the praise and you must let them. If things come back bad, it was your decision and you must bear the consequences. Using phrases like, “it wasn’t my idea” or “I did not know the details” highlights you as a weak leader. The fact is it was still your decision, you chose to let the team choose and you will answer for the decision. If you are the owner, it means your bottom line is short, if you work for a company it means you answer to your boss.

The argument between the dictators and the delegation crowd will wage on in theory, but you will learn through success and failure there is a place and time for both, a subject for another day. Through it all remember that either way you are responsible. Take responsibility for decisions and the team will ultimately respect you, and work harder for you. If you constantly try to shift responsibility for decisions to others both your boss and your team will know, you will soon be out of business or out of a job.

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Categories: Responsibility
  1. August 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I have seen both examples of what you stated. I agree that both have their moments of success and failure. Being a good leader is to be a humble leader. One of the first lessons I learned in my path of being a leader is that humility can save you a lot of distress. Listen to what people have to say and respond intelligently, this is the path to respect. The leader that forces a following does not have as strong of a hold as they think they do. One mis-step and you will have a mutiny on your hands. Just ask CPT Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl. What I’ve found to be very effective is having people want to follow you. Influence them in a way that they not only feel emotionally tied to your success, but rather they are in fact tied to your success. Your success becomes their success. An effective way that I’ve found to accomplish this is by making your success based on the morale and condition of your team. The leader should be the hardest worker there. First in, last out. Never ask of them that which you would not do yourself. Mostly, be fair and consistent. I stay true to this, I learn from my team every time I am around them and I don’t think of myself as being above them. Good Luck!

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