Getting Organized Through Authority, Responsibility, and Delegation

Any enterprise is a goal-oriented system of structured human interactions. People working together follow various set of rules and procedures. Getting organized in ways that are predictable, understandable and relatable determines goal-achieving.

Getting organized is not a random process. At the core, it has three key drivers: authority, responsibility, and delegation (ARDs). Organizations grow as these key drivers dictate. This growth enables an increase in departments, functions, teams, decision-making, and organizational complexity. Hence, ARDs are drivers for any organizational structure and constitute pivot points for getting organized. Read this article and learn how to better organize and lead your team using authority, responsibility, and delegation.

Getting organized through authority, responsibility, and delegation

Modern organizations are profiting from a paradigm shift which favors flatter hierarchies. These can be better-performing, in many situations, and present several advantages. This transition is challenging, in part because of the difficulties of hierarchical paradigm shifts. It becomes difficult to find meaning in ARDs and how they structure organizations. It is easy to misunderstand authority and power, responsibility and accountability, delegation and self-delegation.

ARDs are also interdependent, they exist together, influencing each other. Examining their relation and meaning, we can derive new applications for modern organisations.

Understanding authority

In organizations, authority is the legitimate use of power on behalf of the organization. Think acquisitions or liquidations, firing and hiring etc. Power is the ability to enact change or influence people, situations or objects. In the same way, legitimacy implies that a person has the right to demand a certain behavior. Therefore, legitimacy is the right to have power over the conduct of others. Getting organized while pivoting on authority typically involves a power-figure. This can is avoidable by changing the nature of power into inspiration, as we will later discuss.

Authority is impersonal: it is not the office holder, but rather the office itself that has power. No doubt, the power of the office/function is bound by the policies and rules of the organization. The person in office is exercising this authority, as per the limitations of such rules and the law. Authority without responsibility equals unaccountability.

Taking responsibility

Responsibility is a personal capacity for self-control and the foresight to meet preset expectations. Of course, self-control has to do with the ability of regulating one’s actions. In fact, these actions are self-directed towards meeting a set of expectations. For this reason, responsibility is also the obligation to reach specific objectives. Even more, the objectives are milestones to accomplishing goals, with due diligence. This is why responsibility always entails endeavouring to the best of one’s abilities.

Responsibility is something that you cannot delegate. However, the responsibility to lead with authority is personal. And so is the legitimacy in demanding certain behaviors from people. This is a consequence of combining the delegation of authority and individual decision-making. There is a certain amount of freedom alongside a great deal of responsibility. For example, establishing goals, then objectives, then strategies and tactics. At each level, personal attributes and proper authority guarantee the expected implementation.

Accountability and responsibility have a special relationship. To some extent, this is because they are often confused. To clarify, you are responsible when someone gives you authority over something. You become accountable when someone verifies if you’ve taken care of your responsibilities.

Today, you are responsible. Tomorrow, you are accountable.

The implications of delegation

Delegation is a legitimate transfer of authority. Consequentially, a transfer of responsibility takes place. At the same time, delegation generates a pending obligation for accountability. The one that delegates remains responsible to a higher authority. The delegated becomes responsible to the one delegating. Each is accountable to a higher level and responsible on their level.

One should always delegate work appropriately, without creating an undue burden or an overload. The delegated should always be a person with reasonable skills and experience. The correct level of authority must go with any delegation. Delegation should be transparent and communicated to all concerned parties, monitored and controlled.

Nonetheless, to be able to delegate is quite a skill: the ability to transfer work onto others. In order to keep track and to hold team members accountable for delegated work. A great way of keeping track is using a collaborative teamwork solution, such as Hubgets.

3 easy ways to getting organized

Authority, responsibility, and delegation are all textbook elements for organizing work and producing results. In recent years, a new trend has emerged that may well outperform the classical paradigm. Here are three ways to getting organized through delegation and accountability:

1. The technical authority is the best authority to have

There are three types of authority: formal, informal, and technical. Formal authority is the type of authority the job title offers. For example,  your nameplate says Mr. Boss, then you are the formal authority. Informal authority is something you can see on cups that say “Best Boss in the World :)”. Informal authority means that you are popular, charismatic, and respected.

In flattened hierarchies, the best authority to have is technical authority. That’s like having Jimmy Wales working in the filing room, or Elon Musk working in your garage. A bit of an exaggeration? Maybe. Technical authority inspires employees who are passionate about their area of expertise.

This is not the limit of technical authority. There is such a thing as “authority by association”. This is a blend of informal authority and technical authority. In fact, you can have this type of authority when offering opinions outside your area. For example, the thinking process behind how Steve Jobs chose clothes. Ironically, people get curious even though Jobs was not an expert in clothes.

2. The best type of responsibility is goal-responsibility

Flexible planning is an amazing measure. First of all,  it allows people to align motivations and passions with organizational goals. Consequentially, it enables people to participate in goal-setting. Correspondingly, this makes people play a role in goal-reaching as well, making them responsible. This a lot better than having people feel responsible for working under a power figure.

Moreover, this is why goal-responsibility is the best type of responsibility. In fact, the secret of getting teams to work together is to limit the role of power-figures. Create a context for people to become self-driven; they will develop personal accountability. Thus, team members will start to think and work towards increasing productivity and reducing overhead.

Choosing what you want to work one boosts both productivity and morale. It enables individuals to come together as a team that targets a goal. In part, this is due to personal responsibility.

How to make sure of achieving  goal-responsibility? Make proper use of a collaborative teamwork solution. Another component is self-delegation. Self-delegation is almost always more effective than delegation.

3. The best way to delegate is to let people “delegate themselves”

Imagine the following context: you can choose what you work on. If you can always choose what to work on, you can always work on something you like. Sometimes you won’t have the option to work on what you like. Yet you still have the satisfaction that your work choice is optimally displeasing. Which means that it’s the least dislikable of all available options.

Suppose there are no pleasant options and that all possible tasks are unpleasant. You are still a member of a team, a group of people that goes through the same experience. Isn’t that amazing? With any group of people, some will favor certain activities over others. Sure, there will always be a central tendency towards favoring some tasks. This is where awareness and self-delegation play a role.

Developing awareness about contexts in which people chose least likeable tasks equates into team-building. It brings leaders to the front and it motives others to accept less likeable tasks. Therefore, it strengthens teams and develops synergy and trust. Any team member can perform leadership actions without having an authority position.

Modern teams are getting organized by stepping forward the ARDs and establishing new interpretations. Teams decide what constitute authority and achievement-based authority trumps all other options. They allow individuals self-direction and cultivate responsibility and accountability, enhancing passion, commitment, and trust. Teams foster creativity, innovation and dedication via self-delegation. Teams enables true leaders to step up and inspire others.

Getting organized through a modern interpretation of ARDs allows for autonomous creativity. As a result, individuals take advantage of micro-moments of leadership. Most of all, this allows for an organic contextual adaptation and optimization of work. Getting organized is therefore a different, evolved, set of pivots.

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