Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…

Distinguishing between authority, responsibility and accountability

from page 221
Project Management for Dummies

The following concepts can help you define and clarify how team members should relate to each other and to their assigned tasks:

Authority: the ability to make binding decisions about your projects products, schedule, resources and activities. Examples including singing purchase orders that don’t exceed £5,000 and making a change to a scheduled date of no more than two weeks.
Responsibility: The commitment to achieve specific results. An example is a promise to have a draft report ready by 1 March
Accountability: Bringing consequences to bear in response to people’s performance, such as your boss noting in your annual performance appraisal that you solved a tough manufacturing problem.

Unfortunately, many people think accountability means only paying the price when you foul up. This fear of having to be accountable for their mistakes often leads people to avoid situations in which they would be accountable for their performance. Paying a price when you foul up is certainly half of the concept, but the other half is being rewarded for doing a good job…

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2 comments on “Distinguishing between authority, responsibility and accountability

  1. Bashir
    May 14, 2013

    Distinguish between authority and responsibility

  2. dwighttowers
    September 8, 2013

    Hi, I think the post which is a quote from a book) does that, to my satisfaction anyway. Authority is about being able to select a goal to which limited resources (of time, money, energy, credibility, attention) will be devoted. Responsibility is then making sure the goal happens (or hving a bloody good explanation as to why it didn’t).
    Nested concept maybe, or overlap, but – I think – distinct.
    Does this help?

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This entry was posted on January 8, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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