Friday, March 13, 2020

Responsibilty, authority, and power

How often do we hear: "You're responsible for this or that. You'll be held accountable!"
Less often we hear: "You're responsible and here's the authority to get it done"

Almost never: "You're responsible; you have the authority; and here's the power to enforce your authority"
So what have we got here?
We all understand that accountability without authority is a pretty weak hand
But try enforcing authority without power .... not too easy

The fact is, many times you have to invent the power you need
  • Fear is the easiest thing. Almost anyone can sell fear, and many can instill fear (*)
  • Positional power is somewhat fear-based. Your power comes from an acknowledged relationship with an even more powerful person who really is feared (or held in very high esteem) 
  • Perhaps the hardest power to develop is blind loyalty, but just before that comes leadership, born of high esteem and respect
Of all those, I've been most affected by effective leadership. Fear wears thin; positional power is often exposed for just playing politics. Real leadership is not only functional, but has the element of power needed to effect authority.

(*) In my organization, the ditty was:
  • Shoot the first one; hang the second; and all the rest will follow
You have to admit, that's a power statement 

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