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People Can’t Be Held Accountable Until They are Given the Responsibility and Authority They Need

Accountability: Being required to answer for or explain”
Responsibility: Authority, obligation or duty”

—The Oxford Dictionary

"Accountability” has become one of the most frequently used terms in management today. Starting with the CEO all levels of management are, more than ever, being held “accountable” for their performance and for the performance of the people who report to them.
Holding people accountable is necessary. But it’s not where you start “Accountability” has a negative connotation. As the definition above states, it requires people to answer for or explain their actions. Instead of emphasizing accomplishments and successes, accountability tends to focus on lack of accomplishment or failure.
On the other hand, the concept of “Responsibility” is positive. Electing or appointing a person to a responsible position or asking someone to assume responsibility for accomplishing a project shows trust and confidence in the person’s ability to fulfill that responsibility.
But they must also be given the authority to fulfill the responsibility they are given. If they are not given the authority to go with the responsibility, they can’t be held accountable.
The most effective leaders in any business, professional firm or organization welcome and thrive on responsibility and the obligation to provide the direction and guidance that go with it. Furthermore, because so much responsibility is placed on these leaders, they have learned one of the tenets of successful leadership: They delegate certain responsibilities to others and also give them the authority they need.
Responsibility vs. accountability is not a matter of semantics. It reflects a basic understanding of human nature and leadership. Most people do not like to be held accountable. But they do welcome and usually thrive on being given responsibility. It is no mystery that successful companies, professional firms and organizations have a culture in which everyone in them welcomes and assumes responsibility for the success of the operation.

 

 

Robert Denney

Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc. He and the firm provide management, marketing and strategic planning counsel to law firms and privately held companies throughout the United States and parts of Canada. He has authored or co-authored seven books and has written many articles on these subjects. For information about Bob, the firm and their services, visit their website www.robertdenney.com.

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Filed Under: Business ManagementFeatured Stories

About the Author: Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc. He and the firm provide management, marketing and strategic planning counsel to law firms and privately held companies throughout the United States and parts of Canada. He has authored or co-authored seven books and has written many articles on these subjects. For information about Bob, the firm and their services, visit their website www.robertdenney.com.

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