Leadership is a tricky but essential role; it requires both an intimate understanding of the team and organization and the ability to set and maintain clear expectations. When authorities don’t match responsibilities, it can lead to confusion, tension, and even disaster.

Take, for example, the case of one of our audience members, Leticia. She was charged with leading a team but lacked clear authority in certain areas – a situation that could have been avoided if her assigned responsibilities had matched her authority. Instead, she found herself at odds with team members and her supervisor. The result… shouldn’t surprise you… disaster.

Leticia’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the critical nature of aligning responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities for effective leadership. As leaders, we must have the necessary authority to address issues, hold team members accountable, and ensure that decisions have consequences. When these elements are out of sync, we find ourselves in situations like Leticia’s, where responsibilities and accountabilities rest on our shoulders without the authority to bring about change.

By understanding and acknowledging the importance of this alignment, leaders can create an environment where teams thrive, individual team members are accountable, and everyone is working towards shared goals. Remember, effective leadership requires integrating responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities seamlessly.

Timestamped Overview

In this solo episode, I discuss the following topics:

  • 00:01:15 – Scott introduces the topic and emphasizes the importance of understanding responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities.
  • 00:01:31 – The distinction between responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities.
  • 00:02:45 – Laticia’s situation: managing a team with two difficult members.
  • 00:04:10 – The frustration of being responsible and accountable without the proper authority.
  • 00:06:20 – The consequences of misalignment between responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities.
  • 00:09:05 – The importance of having the authority to hold team members accountable.
  • 00:10:30 – Suggestions for handling such situations and attempting softer approaches before resorting to disciplinary actions.
  • 00:12:00 – The need for a level of authority that aligns with the level of responsibility and accountability.
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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:01]:

On episode 250 of the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast. I go solo, and I talk to you about a real life story about the mess you get when your authorities and responsibilities don’t align. That’s right, folks. It’s all but real life today. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s do it.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:31]:

Welcome 1. Welcome all to the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast. A weekly podcast series dedicated to helping you hit peak performance across the 3 domains of the leadership. Those being leading yourself, leading your team, and leading your organization. This podcast couples my 20 years of military experiences as senior Canadian army officer with world class guests to bring you the most complete podcast of leadership going. And for more, feel free to check out our website at moving forwardleadership.com. And with that, Let’s get to the show.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:15]:

Yes. Welcome 1. Welcome all. It is your chief leadership officer Scott McGrath here, and thanks for tuning in to the show. For episode 250. Wow. Can’t believe it. You know, when I was coming up on episode 250, I thought myself, What am I gonna do to commemorate this? What am I gonna do special for 250? because, you know, the average podcast lasts, like, 13 episodes or something. and 250 is definitely a huge milestone. And the more I thought about it, More and realized. Why do we think special at all? Just keep doing what I’ve been doing day in, day out with the show and bringing you quality content on leadership today. Sometimes what I’m doing today. And in particular, we have a real life story. That’s right. So, I’m gonna talk to you about responsibilities and authorities and as well as accountabilities. And I’m gonna overlay this real life story that is happening to a listener a member of our free Facebook group leadership skills for managers who want to be leaders, not bosses, as well as a former master leader growth mastermind member, Leticia, her story. And It’s one that I’ve been personally following with great interest for some time now. Before I tell you her story, though, Let’s dive into what? These responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities actually are because they’re linked, but they’re not exactly the same. So responsibilities. Right? We’re used to responsibilities. We generally know what responsibilities Right. Those are the things you are responsible to achieve. Those are the tasks that you are responsible to have completed day in, day out whatever. We know those really good. So I think I can jump past responsibilities. Authorities Those are the things that you can do that you’re unable to do. Some people You know? It could be money. You may be entitled or not entitled, but authorized to spend so much of your budget at a certain time. You’re authorized to let your people go on holidays. Maybe you’re authorized to hire, fire, Representman, discipline, hold accountable, whatever. These are all the different things you’re authorized. to do. You hold that authority. You can decide to do it or not. Think that one is self explanatory. The accountability aspect is one that a lot of people don’t quite get. A lot of people mix them up with responsibilities, but they’re not exactly the same. So let me put it in context for you. You have a responsibility to make sure your tasks were done so like so on and so forth. But as a leader of a team, you’re accountable for your team members. Therefore, if they don’t do their responsibilities, you’re to account for that. see the difference. Right? It’s not your responsibility to do their tasks. however, you’re accountable for their performance. Makes sense? Okay? And this is where the core of Leticia’s problem comes from. and that her responsibilities, authorities, and accountabilities weren’t aligned. So let’s talk about this situation. So this year, she was in charge of a team. She had a team, and she was in charge of it. She was a, you know, manager, I believe, about 6 or 8 people. and she was responsible for them. Danned out. She had a great team, except for 2 members. See, these two members thought they were above the rest. They thought that Leticia’s authorities didn’t matter. So they would regularly question her Judgment. Question her requirements. Question her in front of others. They would simply ignore her. ignore her guidance, her direction. Basically, act as if Leticia was not their supervisor but rather just another person. So you can see how frustrating it must be for her. You know? you are responsible for the performance of the team. You’re accountable. her supervisor was noting the problem with the team. Not the problem with the 2 individuals, but rather, Problem with the team weren’t necessarily doing what they were supposed to do all the time. And whenever Leticia brought it up to a supervisor, 1, her supervisor didn’t believe that the 2 people were, in fact, as bad as what TCS said they were. 2, didn’t believe that the problems were actually problems, which led to the, quote unquote, tea problems, And finally, 3, didn’t enable Leticia to handle the problem herself. You see, these CS supervisor held the authorities for discipline, consequences, accountability for the team. So here comes the misalignment. PC on one hand is responsible for her team is to account for the team’s performance. Yet hold no authority to deal with the issue. And since she held no authority to deal with the issue, These 2 team members simply did whatever they could. Did ever what they wanted. It didn’t matter because the moral of the story is that Laticia held no authority to be able to do anything about it. And seeing that these two members obviously knew that Luthesia’s supervisor was in their back pocket. Yeah. That supervisor sided with them every time Ticia brought an issue for her. things such as claiming false overtime, simply working on overtime while just simply browsing on their phone, which she believed was misconduct issue, which I would say, yes. It was. The moral story is at Laticia despite being accountable for her team as the team lead. Held no authority to deal with the problems that it had. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get into this mess. If you, as a leader, are accountable and responsible, for things within your team, you have to have the authority to deal with it as required. k. Doesn’t mean, you know, in this case, on the TCS case, that she needed to hold the authority to fire. But she had the she had the need to have the authority to hold her team members to account. to discipline, to reprimand, to simply get them to understand that decisions have consequences and that they can’t simply do whatever it is they do. Now hit the pause button for a second. I know. You’re probably thinking, Scott, Scott, Scott, You know, she coulda had a talk with them. She coulda made them understand, and she could have done this that newer thing. before you get to a point of needing to reprimand whole people account so on and so forth. 100% agree. What I personally tell you is She had been there a long time before. She had tried all the softer approaches to dealing with this problem. But, unfortunately, as you imagine, it went nowhere. So this is why I’m saying Laticia was in a rock and a hard place in that she was responsible and accountable for the actions of her team members yet held no authority to deal with it. And that ladies and gentlemen is the perfect storm for this kind of mess. So if you’re subordinate, such as aticia, and you’re in this problem space, you are, you know, trying to deal with something. Maybe it’s not necessarily just team members. who are not being, you know, fully held accountable. Maybe it is budgeting concern. where you’re responsible for managing the budget yet. You have no authority over the budget. It could be equipment. It could be other personnel. It could be so much more. The thing is is that this framework works for every situation in that if you’re to be held accountable for something, you have to hold the authority to be able to Minister it, react to it, apply it, deal with it, whatever. Do you have to have the ultimate authority? Not necessarily, but you have to have a level authority which commensurate which to the level of what your responsibility is. So expectation from your supervisors x, the level authority that you hold has to match x for the level accountability that corresponds. See, these three things are succinct. They mesh together. They come together. When you don’t have one which is synced with the others, you have it out of alignment, which causes these problems. So if you’re that subordinate and you see that you don’t have the authorities in line with your responsibilities and your counterparties. then you need to bring this up to your supervisor. And your and basically explain this situation to them that either They grant you the authorities to do whatever it is you need to do, or they throttle back these responsibilities and accountabilities so that you are actually empowered properly to deal with whatever it is you need to deal with. Now if you’re a supervisor and you have a subordinate coming to you. Like, I can’t deal with this situation. So imagine you’re a Laticia supervisor. And she’s constantly come to you complaining about these 2 individuals. And that She has no authority in her to deal with him. You need to stop for a second and go, holy cow, one of my team leads here is having a problem, and I’m the bottleneck. I’m the person holding the hammer. I’m the person who’s deciding everything. Something’s wrong. You have to empower your people to deal with their problems firsthand. If you power a member to be a team lead you have to actually give them all the team leads powers which may include in Leticia’s Situation, the power to reprimand, power to discipline. Doesn’t mean you’re out of the picture. You always have a vote. but you need to back up your team lead, and you need to empower them to be able to do their job. If they’re not doing their job, then you’re doing their job. And I question you to say who is actually doing your job. So in this case, in Leticia’s scenario, maybe your supervisor didn’t give her the power to Maybe that held with her. But her supervisor could have easily given her an ability to discipline. And then if you wanted to fire these individuals, you have to build the case. Now, as well in this scenario, there was obviously a situation where her supervisor didn’t have Leticia’s back. Right? Doing a supporter. You need to support your team leads. When you don’t, especially in situations like this where She’s telling these individuals she’s going to bring these actions up to her supervisor for action, and then nothing comes out of it. What you’re doing is You’re deflating the authority, whatever authority you left in her with these perfect people, and then you’re validating the actions that they are doing. No. No. Recipe for disaster. and this is where we’re at. So what’s gonna happen moving forward? That’s a great question. I’m not a crystal ball, but I’ll tell you what Leticia said, I could say. And that she is no longer responsible. Nor has any accountability for her team members’ actions. She’s actually not a team lead anymore. She’s just gonna focus on her part of the team and what she was doing and not actually be responsible for the other team members. She no longer has subordinates. Now Is this gonna be a great, you know, angels coming out singing hallelujah, and the team is suddenly going to jail? Probably not. And reality is I suspect that it’ll actually have the inverse I think it’s actually gonna drive a larger wedge amongst the team members. And that now, especially with these 2, who were completely insubordinate, who didn’t listen, will even push the envelope harder further. And that now, Dave will see Leticia even less. You know? She was once, quote unquote, a team lead that didn’t follow Now to them, she simply appear. Now the gloves can really come off, and that’s my fear. So moving to bat, that Ticia will be on the job hunt soon. and I wish her best of luck. And for her supervisor out there who’s listening, congratulations. You enabled a mess. and you could have simply avoided the mess if you had listened to her in the first place and aligned her responsibilities, Earth, accountabilities, and authorities properly to deal with this situation. That’s it for this week’s Allegion, gentlemen. So remember as always, lead. Don’t boss. Take care now.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:08]:

And that’s a wrap for this episode, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the Peak Performance Leadership Podcast.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:16]:

But you know what you could do

Scott McCarthy [00:18:17]:

to truly support the podcast and know that’s not leaving a rating and review. It’s simply helping a friend. And that is helping a friend by sharing this episode with them if you think this would resonate with them and help them elevate. their performance level, whether that’s within themselves, their teams, or their organization. So do that. Help me, help a friend win win all around, and, hey, you look like a great friend at the same time. So just hit that little share button on your app. and then feel free to fire this episode to anyone that you feel would benefit from it. Finally, there’s always more. There’s always more lessons around being the highest performing leader that you can possibly be. whether that’s for yourself, your team, or your organization. So why don’t you subscribe? Subscribe to the show via moving forward viewership dotcom forward slash subscribe. And until next time, lead, don’t boss, and thanks for coming out. Take care now.