There are a lot of talks about delegating power and responsibility around. A lot of articles have been written about “bad boss made me responsible and didn’t give me power to do something”. Constructive approach in some articles provides “tips and tricks” how to receive appropriate power to the existing level of responsibility. Destructive approach shows how bad is that bad boss and describes “how good behavior shows “Company of dreams” which let people do everything on their own and has amazing results”.
Also, the biggest part of all discussions regarding “power and responsibility” dilemma rolls down to whining about “I have a lot of responsibilities and don’t have any power to perform them”.
My colleague Artyom Serdyuk gave a presentation about readiness of the “customer” to provide “team” with the power and responsibilities and also readiness of the “team” to take those power and responsibilities. Presentation was constructive, but still most discussions between the attendants were about bad “customer” who doesn’t give the power and not about what is the reason why it happens.
I often act on the both sides of the “empowering” field.
Some people ask me to do some job. Sometimes needed power is being provided “automatically”, sometimes I have to prove the need of such a providing.
On the other side, I often ask people to do some job. Sometimes I provide them with needed power without any doubts and sometimes I have to accept that I will be totally responsible for the possible negative result myself.
So, how does it work for me personally…
I hope, that it was really true, but I’d like to think about myself in childhood as about quite a responsible person. I independently performed all my homework (except writing lines of similar characters to improve my calligraphy) and most part of responsibilities my parents required me to be performed.
But it was “unconscious responsibility”. It was enough for that period of my life.
The catalyst that showed me a need to take responsibility, accept it for myself and perform the task perfectly was a parties which took place at the “dacha” (country house) of my parents.
I need to ask parents to give me the keys, organize everything, and the main thing: clean all dishes and the “dacha” itself if needed. Of course, sometimes other participants were helping, but “by default” I had to be ready to do everything myself.
Key point: taking the responsibility was optional. I might not offer our “dacha” so we would find another place to have a party or just not to have it at all.
So, consciously taking the responsibility, accepting it for myself and performing the task perfectly was the cornerstone in my future behaviors and my life as a whole.
There were a lot of events and situations where I had to take responsibility accepting all the risks and possible faults which come together with the responsibility and the power. There were successes as well as faults, but they just give me the feeling of strengthening of my “power and responsibility” skill.
Important remarks, I want to mention:
- You need to understand clearly the responsibility itself and the power you need to perform it.
- You need to understand the influence that the negative result will have to the “customer” (stakeholder, boss, colleague, friend, family member).
- Positive results will not provide with the appropriate feedback to evaluate your Skill. It will just momentarily happen. Usually it will be taken by everybody as normal. The only reward for you usually will be satisfaction of your internal motivation to be a professional.
- You need to understand that to say “yes, I accept this responsibility” you have to evaluate all input information you have and found the positive result as the possible with the probability accepted by you and the “customer” in this situation.
- You need to check if you are the right person in this situation to perform the task. If not – let “customer” know the other options or the reason you are not the right person for this task at this moment. It is much better to decline the task with the right explanation than to take it and don’t make it successful.
- You need to make sure that you have an appropriate power to perform this task. If not – ask for it. If you don’t get it, – don’t do this task. If it is not possible or not acceptable – express your “separate opinion” and start to do your best.
- Performing any accepted task good – is my internal motivation. This is also the measurement of the professionalism of any person who does something and pretend to be a professional.
I wish all of you readiness to take the responsibility, right arguments to get appropriate power, internal motivation to perform it perfectly and reasonable understanding that you are professional.
Extension. Inspired by the review-feedback of Artyom Serdyuk.
After reviewing this article Artyom asked me several question and gave several remarks. If I implement answers into the article it might become a book. So I decided just answer those questions here [I generalized and depersonalized some questions, sorry Artyom]:
1) Q: Why did you take the responsibility for the dacha and dishes that time?
A: I just wanted event to happen. Either afraid or act, this was the choice. I’ve made my choice.
2) Q: Why do you think that such a taking of the responsibility is right choice and good as such?
A: It is not “objectively right” or “objectively wrong”. You just have to see/feel/decide what is “right” and “wrong” for you. Making things happen accepting appropriate level of the risk and efforts is right for me. It is more difficult to answer about “good”. As for me, it is good because it appeared to be natural for me, but in the same time it is “bad”, because it adds enormous amount of complexity to my life. But “Life is life…”. And it is just impossible to decide if it is good for others. So, it is up to them to decide.
3) Q: Sometimes you have to take responsibility, but you also depend on the work/decision/etc. of the other person. Sometimes them may not perform their part of job well. What do you do in such a situations?
A: It is important to accept reasonable level of the risk. You need to see that task is challenging, but possible to complete. Still sometime you have to take a risk and make everything work despite of other people. Sometimes faults happen.
P.S. Feel free to ask your questions or just post your remarks in the comments.
Thank you in advance!
director (General Manager, UA)