Every person in an organization should clearly and completely understand what he or she is responsible for, what level of authority is accorded to him or her, and how he or she is held accountable. It is also important for every person to know what others are responsible for, what authority others have, and how others will be held accountable. Without clarity on these important points, confusion and mishaps are inevitable.
When responsibilities and accountability are clearly defined, operations run much more smoothly and cleanly. Teamwork improves dramatically, and arguments over authority virtually disappear.
It is important to remember, however, that responsibility and authority go hand-in-hand. If you give people responsibility without also giving them the necessary authority to carry out those responsibilities, you are setting them up for failure.
Remember—as a leader you are always responsible for the outcome. Too often in business, a leader’s response to things gone wrong is, “Why wasn’t I informed?” The fact is, if things go wrong, it’s the leader’s responsibility. So make sure everyone knows exactly what outcomes you expect and exactly what authority he or she has and doesn’t have. It will eliminate confusion about who is authorized to take which actions and what the results of those actions should be.
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