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Can You Delegate Authority, Responsibility and Accountability?

Delegation is a key skill for leaders, but what limits does it have? Watch this video to explore if authority, responsibility, and accountability can be delegated . . .

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Before we discuss whether and how authority, responsibility, and accountability can be delegated or shared, it's important to understand the nature of these two actions. Delegation is like passing the baton in a relay race. You can't be responsible for your part forever. Sharing, on the other hand, is more collaborative. It's like a visually impaired runner and their guide completing a race together. Both are great tools that help distribute work and responsibilities strategically. But if misused, it can lead to confusion, costly mistakes, and avoidable stress. Have a look at the table here to see what you can do with the three concepts.

When you delegate authority, you give it to another person so they can do tasks usually done at your level. An example of this would be when you designate a temporary person in charge to make day to day decisions for you while you are away on a conference or course. Sharing authority doesn't work most of the time. Either the other person defers to you, making it useless, or you end up in a power struggle. When you share responsibility, you share your workload with your staff. For example, you might give teachers sections of a scheme of work to do while you do the other half.

You can't delegate responsibility because the obligation to follow through with a commitment remains with you, even if you have someone else do it. When an incident happens within your team, the responsibility of ensuring it is resolved is ultimately yours. Accountability is something that stays with you, whether you delegate authority or share responsibility. If your staff fails to do a task you assign to them, they are answerable to you for that. But you alone are accountable to your ma nagers and stakeholders for the consequences of your decision to assign the task in the first place. It's important you know what you can and can't do with authority, responsibility, and accountability to avoid confusion and costly mistakes at work.

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