Graduating from Responsibility to Authority

Great leaders understand that the only way to scale is to help people grow and begin delegating authority. So what is my leadership looking for before they move me from having responsibilities to holding authority? Watch or read the transcript below →


So, I’ve been thinking about something over the past week and I want to pose a question to you.

Why is it that some people in an organization are given responsibility while others in the organization are entrusted with authority? Because, responsibility and authority are vastly different, right? But here’s what I think the difference is.

Responsibility is given when I can demonstrate my competency in an area. When I can prove that I have the technical know-how and the ability to execute, then the work is entrusted to me.

But with authority, it's a little less straightforward; it's a little bit more intangible, but here’s what I think authority is made of.

Authority is proven competency plus earned influence. Earned influence being the big differentiator. So, for people who have earned influence, what are they doing differently in their lives? I believe these people prioritize two major areas. Number one, they prioritize purpose, and number two, they prioritize people.

So, when it comes to purpose, influencers are crystal clear on the values that drive them, and you'll see the fruit of this in their lives as well. These people are kind, they’re empathic, they’re listeners, they’re disciplined, they’re humble, they’re excellent in everything that they do. The list could go on and on, but you get the point that you begin to see meaningful values like these running a thread throughout their lives. It’s very evident in everything that they do.

The second thing they prioritize is people. They treat relationships like absolute gold, because they have an understanding that this is the most important thing in business. So, they're always cognizant of "how am I communicating and how is that being received?"; "what can I do to better serve the people around me?"; and "how can I contribute to the growth of others as well?"

So, if you are seeking a longterm leadership position where you’re at right now, here’s what I would say to you: begin to put less emphasis on the technical knowledge you're contributing and more on the lasting values you’re seeding into the organization; less on asserting your expertise and more on "how can I serve the people in the process?" 

You have to be that rare intelligence that puts people and purpose first, while continuing to hone your competency in the background. Because, if you can be unassuming in your technical know-how, allowing your values and the way that you treat people to really drive the example in your life, then you’ve already earned that influence and your leadership won't be able to help but promote you.

So again, authority is proven competency plus earned influence.

Let’s be unassuming in our vocations and unabashed in our values.