Lessons Learned

Accountability without Empowerment is Nonsense: A Short Play

Okay, so I’m your new boss and your name is A-aron.

Me: Welcome to the job, A-aron.

You: Thank you.

Me: So here’s the scoop. I’m going to hold you accountable for the results of this lemonade stand.

You: Cool, so at the end of the day, the success or failure of the lemonade stand will be my responsibility.

Me: Yes.

You: I’m up for that challenge. So I’m assuming I’ll have control of the budget?

Me: No. For any budget decisions, please prepare a report and provide to me 1 day in advance of any purchase.

You: Okay…fair enough…how about hiring?

Me: Absolutely not. You need to run every hire by me.

You: Hmm…okay. What about selection of ingredients. I like lemons from India and Sugar from Brazil.

Me: Nope, it’s my company and I always order lemons and sugar from anywhere but those places. It’ll be my decision.

You: How about any decision? Any decision at all?

Me: Nope, please write a memo for every decision and get it signed off by at least three people above you.

You: Okay, but if anything goes wrong, I guess it really isn’t my fault then right?

Me: Of course it is. Your job is your responsibility. Like I said, I’m going to hold you responsible for the success of this operation.

You: Okay…

Me: Thanks A-aron

You: You bet…

If I was you, I would be annoyed. You’re being held responsible for the success of my lemonade stand, but you’re not empowered to make any decisions. I’m making every decision! Mwa-haha!

Long story short, if your at a company that is holding people accountable, but those people don’t have the ability to influence the fate of the company, it might be time to take a step back and consider empowering those people.

Steven Choi works at Root, Inc. A Strategy Execution Firm. He helps companies empower the people they hold accountable.

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