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You Can Delegate Authority, but Not Responsibility

You Can Delegate Authority, but Not Responsibility

Responsibility of a Manager:

A corporate manager is accorded with the huge responsibility of leading his subordinates in the right direction, by giving proper insights on the tasks to be accomplished.

The success rate depends on how well he delegates his authority down the line to get things done. The art of delegation results not only in down sizing his work pressure but also in the empowerment of subordinates, that elevates them to a higher plane of understanding and achievement.

authority delegation

Delegation of Authority Down the Line

An Excerpt from The Art of Delegation: Developing This Essential Managerial Skill

Delegation helps you handover the authority of certain tasks to capable team members so that you free up your time to work on more pressing issues. But you still remain responsible to get those completed in proper way. Hence it is essential to have a status check or communication with the team member on regular basis.

Accountability of Subordinates:

The subordinates, when entrusted with the responsibilities of performing a task by themselves and the necessary authority to make decisions within the area of their assigned duties, are obliged to perform.

The necessary assistance and training for the new assignment has to be planned for, by the manager to make them perform as per the expected standards. The thing is right people should be chosen for the entrusted job. They should possess the zeal and enthusiasm to deliver the desired output.

Some people perform beyond expectations and they should be rewarded with additional responsibilities. Whatever the case may be, it is a wise thing to delegate simple assignments at the initial stage, and proceed with more challenging jobs depending upon the caliber of the incumbent.


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Clear and Clever Delegation:

Clear and clever delegation facilitates to build a formal organization structure, where the subordinates are trained well and they look up to the manager for direction and guidance.

Although the authority is delegated, the manager is held accountable and answerable to the management for the performance output or the end result.

Some managers hesitate to delegate, just for the reason that their weaknesses might get exposed. Some don’t have confidence in their subordinates. Some even fear that they might lose their power if the subordinate is very shrewd and exceeds the expectations.

Managers fail because of poor delegation; the reasons being personal attitude of managers in delegating authority.

Let us understand some of the basic principles to be adhered to while delegating:

  • The authority delegated to subordinates should be adequate enough to ensure their ability to accomplish the expected results.
  • Authority can be delegated but responsibility can never be delegated. Responsibility of subordinates is “performance” and that of managers is “responsibility for the action of their subordinates”.
  • One cannot be held responsible for a task if he has only limited authority. There need to be a balance between authority and responsibility.
  • The presence of a single superior will invoke greater feeling of personal responsibility among the subordinates.

Lack of receptiveness on the superior’s part will incur greater loss in terms of performance and efficiency. Instead, a manager should develop a trustful attitude towards his subordinates and should have the patience to explain the policies, objectives and guidelines and give sufficient authority to perform a duty.


Although initially the efforts taken to train a subordinate is time consuming, the more empowered he becomes, less is your time taken to accomplish the enterprise objectives. The superior must be able to create a climate of mutual trust and goodwill, to make delegations effective in the light of expected results.