“But, I am the manager, shouldn’t I have the authority to make some decisions around here?” Amber asked.
“Ah, yes. Authority,” I replied. “You must understand, however, that authority comes with accountability. Neither comes first. You cannot have the authority to make a decision without the accountability for the outcome of that decision. Conversely, you cannot be held to account for the outcome unless you have the authority to make the decision.”
“So, just exactly what decisions do I have the authority to make around here?” Amber pressed on.
“To know that, you have to examine your goals and objectives.” Amber had an unspoken question on her face. I continued, “Your goals and objectives, agreed upon by you and your manager, set the context for your accountability (output) and the authority you have to make decisions to reach those goals.
“In the beginning, that authority may be unclear. That is why you meet with your manager more frequently, to clarify the context, define the accountability and determine your authority. As time goes by, your confidence will increase and so will your understanding of the discretion you have to make appropriate decisions.
“The most important understanding, where you have authority to make decisions regarding the output of your team, you also have accountability for that outcome. Do not think you can have the authority without the accountability.”