Leadership/Authority vs Responsibility/Authority

May 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Posted in Business, Professional Development | Leave a comment

In a previous post I talked about Authority vs Leadership. Recently I was in a situation where I was being asked to control something over which I did not have direct authority and my response to the situation was “I need the authority to do it!” Later that night I pondered whether I was violating my own principle. In the end, I don’t think I was and here’s why…

When it comes to leadership, we’re talking about people. Human beings with a whole truckload of baggage, hopes, dreams, and dynamics that you can’t quantify into formulas. However, in this particular case, I was being asked to take responsibility — not leadership — for something. In this case it was a budget decision. That is quite a different story because money is just a tool that cannot be influenced. Those numbers on my spreadsheet aren’t going to change even with my best pre-game speech. If I want to change them, I need the authority to do it.

One could argue that I can influence the owner of the budget, and to an extent that’s true. But in the case of responsibility for money, you need to fight for direct control or fight to have the responsibility placed on the true owner of the budget and you just become a data point to their decision.

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