Delegating Responsibility vs. Authority

While tag surfing I saw this post by Jon Teague (here).  It is interesting how many ministers blog on leadership and how critical it is to their vocation.  To that end, he raises an important point to consider when deciding building out a responsibility assignment matrix (sometimes called “RACI” or “PARIS” matrices).  Jon notes that we should ask ourselves a simple question when delegating:

Am I delegating (or receiving) responsibility or authority?…

Responsibility – this means you need to give clear directions. There is a certain way you want it to be done and a certain way it should look when it’s finished. You have given away the responsibility of completing a task in the described manner.

Authority – this means you are giving away the authority to choose how something gets done, choose who participates, make decisions, etc. As long as the goal is achieved, this person has the authority to get it done.

This distinction is useful, especially when considering accountability (the “A” in “RACI”).  When hold someone accountable for the goal, then we need to give them the appropriate authority.  I’ve gotten better at focusing on the outcome, rather than obsessing that someone isn’t “doing it my way.”

However, I’ve gotten so used to delegating authority that this post was a useful reminder that responsibility delegation is a different animal.  I will need to coach, guide, and lead this colleague appropriately because I remain on the hook for the deliverable or outcome.

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