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Leading from the Core

Can You Delegate Accountability?

Posted on August 14th, 2019 by Randall Taussig

The short answer is “no,” but this can be tricky. It all starts with clarity around who’s accountable for what in your organization.

Use the Accountability Chart to Eliminate Gray Areas

The Accountability Chart identifies the right structure for your organization based upon your organization’s potential and the vision behind it. It also identifies the people who are accountable for running it. Clear identification of responsibilities within the structure leads to increased accountability.

Delegate and Elevate…Everything but YOUR Responsibilities

Delegating is an important discipline that all leaders must do in order to elevate their roles and value to the organization. But be careful not to delegate your responsibilities, i.e. the things that you are ultimately accountable for.

Let’s take an example where you own the Sales function in your company. This means that you’re the ultimate owner of the sales results. You cannot delegate this. You rely on sales reps that have their own set of accountabilities, but you are still the owner of the overall sales results.

What if some sales reps are not performing?

Of course, sales reps have their own set of responsibilities leading to their accountability. But this doesn’t shift your responsibilities. You own the sales results and therefore must drive for clarity, push for the right answers and orchestrate the appropriate action to get things back on track. This could include applying new sales training, overhauling the sales processes or making personnel changes. Ownership means you take charge to right the ship.

But what happens if the sales shortage stems from problems outside of sales, i.e. in Operations? Now, who’s accountable…guess who?

Of course, you may say (understandably) “We sold it, but they couldn’t make it, therefore we can’t be responsible for these poor sales results!” Actually, you are still responsible for sales results.

Ops must take full responsibility for production, just as you must for sales.
This may require some serious conversations with the Director of Ops and/or the Integrator. You may need to push the issue to the highest priority during your next Level 10 meeting. Or perhaps, you may need to renegotiate sales quotas based on limited production capacity. It’s all in your hands, because…YOU are ultimately accountable for sales results.

When you’re Fully Accountable, you’re more likely to Take Charge

Delegating your responsibilities is dangerous and can lead to tension and frustrations. Instead, take the time to clearly understand your true responsibilities, take full accountability around them and initiate all necessary steps to get things back on track.

This marks great leadership.