April 2015

. . . helping organizations find solutions to people-related problems

Authority, Responsibility, & Accountability

It's amazing how few leaders, managers, and supervisors, and even principal business owners have no sense of the real meaning of authority, responsibility, and accountability. These three words are the bedrock of leading and managing people and organizations.

Authority: The right to do something. Conferred. Comes from above: The board, the president, others. Conveyed by official and/or functional title. Earned. Comes from below: Your employees, followers, subordinates. Commonly known and measured as Respect. The latter is the test and currency of real leaders.

Responsibility: The obligation to do something--legal, ethical, and moral--directed or initiated by competent authority.

Accountability: The only way you know if the other two exist and are working. Identifiable and defined only in terms of consequences or sanctions. Two kinds: Rewards. Can be as simple as praise or a raise. Punishments. Can be private coaching, reprimand, or termination and lots of options in between.

Not knowing, discussing, and understanding these concepts and how they impact the very heart of organizational and leadership effectiveness is a critical oversight in leading and managing others and generating passionate performance.

Warm regards

Dave Martin


HRA Services, Inc.

"Applying Systematic Thinking to the Human Dimension"