Are you a leader? Take on less

Leaders take on too much.

Too much responsibility. Too much stress. Too much work. Too many are an inch deep and a mile wide.

Why? Many reasons.

One of my favorites is the mix up between responsibility and accountability. The delineation is subtle.

All leaders by nature of their role are accountable. The buck always stops with the leader.

The problem is that some leaders choose to fulfill their accountability by taking on the responsibility. The responsibility to have the answers, to do the work, to influence the process, to move the puzzle pieces around.

These leaders have set up a system where they are doing the work and their team assists them. These leaders are burdened, stressed, overworked, and perennially behind.

Other leaders intentionally separate responsibility from accountability. They assign the responsibility, and all the stress of that responsibility, to their team. The team is in charge of the outcome. In this arrangement the leader becomes coach. Her job is about bringing out the best in her team so they can realize success. She asks better questions. She lets them come up with the ideas. She guides them forward. She lets them fail.

She still retains accountability but she delegates the responsibility.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on November 22, 2019

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