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There is a popular quote in the Spiderman story
There is a popular quote in the Spiderman story, where Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker,“with great power comes great responsibility”.
A common understanding of this quote is that power is in our hands must be used responsibly. This is huge in an age where so much power (economic, military, social, or otherwise) lies in the hands of so few.
Much can be said about this, but I want to focus on other aspects of the power-responsibility relationship.
Recently, I had a chat with a friend about delegation. We all know that leaders cannot (and should not) do everything on their own. They need to learn to develop others within the organization and delegate duties appropriately. My friend asked whether it would be any different for regimental systems such as the military.
(How) should a leader step in when he feels that things are not going the way he thinks it should?
One way to look at such issues is to see power and responsibility as two sides of the same coin – we cannot have one have one without the other. As much as it is dangerous to give people power without responsibility (i.e. the Spiderman logic), it is arguably just as bad to give people responsibility without the corresponding power.
One, this sets people up for failure. Two, when we give others responsibility without the power, we end up holding that power ourselves but without the responsibility (i.e. the same Spiderman logic)!
Think about a situation where the boss puts you in charge of a project. He tells you the project is important and puts the responsibility on you to deliver it. But along the way he micro-manages and gives you instructions all the time. When the project fails, the boss tells you that you have failed in your responsibility.
What has happened?
What has happened? If power and responsibility are two sides of the same coin, we can look at where the two separated. First, it is useful to note that leaders make decisions all the time on how to distribute power and responsibility. For example, a leader can choose to do the work himself, or he can delegate it.
He can decide how and who to delegate it to. This is a prerogative and power of leadership, and it also comes with the responsibility to make the right choices. Often, when certain appointments fail we like to look at the people in those jobs. For me, I like to also ask who had put those people in those jobs in the first place.
Next, when a leader puts responsibility on his staff, does he give them the right power to do the job well? If he does not, e.g. the leader still wants to make the day-to-day decisions, then the responsibility has not left the leader.
Likewise, if he meddles or micro-manages, he effectively takes power away from the staff, and so, the responsibility reverts to the leader.
Once we see how power and responsibility are kept together, or kept apart, we can make sense of many dysfunctions in organizations. If we are serious in wanting people to take on more responsibilities, we must be prepared to give them the corresponding powers to do so. So, whether a system is regimental or not, is not the main issue.
The main issue
The main issue is whether power and responsibility go hand-in-hand. In a system where the powers must remain centralized, the responsibility is also centralized, and the leaders should have no illusions about it. We cannot have it both ways e.g. centralized power but diffused responsibility.
A similar logic applies to societies.
Today, more Governments are realizing that they alone cannot solve the problems of society; they must involve the people. And so, there are more calls for people to step up to take on more responsibilities.
This invites the question, what power will the Government give to the people? In societies, power can come in various forms, e.g. formal authority, process power, financial power, information power, influence power etc. This is where it may get awkward and uneasy. If power is “the ability or right to control people or things”
then sharing power or giving it up may make people (incl. Governments) feel vulnerable.
For many societies, this is the real deal, the elephant in the room. It is difficult to talk about active citizenry without a corresponding talk about power.
Spiderman popularized our thinking about power and relationship in one way. I think it is important to also look at the relationship in the other direction, that is, “with great responsibility must come great power”.
Power: Using It Wisely
In the world of physics, power is a rate of doing work. It requires a change in the physical universe as well as a specific time period in which that change happens. In a corporate setting, there are many similarities. A leader may promise to have a detailed, 300-page report on a client’s desk by Thursday noon and may well deliver. But using power unwisely (such as when a leader promises unrealistic results) can result in resentment on the part of the people doing the work, or delivery of a product that is not of sufficient quality. When a person rules by fiat, he or she must be prepared to live with the risks, including the risks to his or her position as a leader.
Responsibility: Reliability and Accountability
The word “responsibility” traces its origins to the Latin “respondere,” which means “to respond.” This idea of responding to a situation evolved into a more nuanced meaning of being answerable. While responsibility primarily means that one is accountable for actions, it also incorporates connotations of trustworthiness, obligation, and reliability.
Unlike power, responsibility implies consequences. The difference between, “I order you to finish that report by 4 p.m.” and “I need you to be responsible for the final report. How soon can you turn it around and be confident about the quality?” is the difference between lack of trust and trust in someone else’s abilities.
Responsibility also implies a sort of transitive property. If I trust you to complete a task and you don’t do it, I bear some of the responsibility because I trusted you when perhaps I shouldn’t have. Having responsibility and delegating responsibility require a relationship based on understanding and trust.
How Your Organization Benefits from Balanced Power and Responsibility
There are situations when wielding power is appropriate. Think of a bystander responding to a car accident. The appropriate response when people inevitably gather is to give specific orders rather than thinking it through and considering the options. “You, the woman in blue, I need you to call 911. Man in the brown coat, I need to borrow your coat to keep him from going into shock. Motorcycle guy: can you please help direct traffic around us until the police arrive?”
Analogous situations happen at work too, like when there is a security breach or a key piece of machinery breaks. Acting swiftly and wielding power appropriately can contain the damage and potentially save lives.
But responsibility has a larger role because most of the time you’re not operating in crisis mode. Taking responsibility and delegating responsibility not only holds everyone accountable in a fair manner, it empowers others to become better at what they do.
Empowering Your Team to Excel
Leadership coaching isn’t about teaching those in a position of power how to wield that power. It’s about helping them accept responsibility, know when to use power, and when to assign responsibility appropriately. When you demonstrate responsibility, and when you allow team members to assume responsibility (along with the glory and blame that can go along with it), you have a better team and a better organization overall.
My most successful leadership coaching clients are the ones who know how to balance power and responsibility. They understand that reward and risk usually increase in proportion to each other, and they also understand that they are not indispensable. In fact, they shouldn’t want to be indispensable. If they learn to accept their own responsibility as well as delegate various responsibilities, they allow everyone the opportunity to excel, and when that happens, everyone wins.
What are roles and responsibilities?
Roles refer to one’s position on a team. Responsibilities refer to the tasks and duties of their particular role or job description. Employees are held accountable for completing several tasks in the workplace. The clearer their supervisor outlines the tasks, the better employees can achieve their team’s goals and succeed in their individual roles at the company. For a supervisor or team leader to effectively delegate, however, they must understand that individual’s role at the company. It can also be beneficial to understand the benefits of implementing functional roles and responsibilities.
A strong sense of responsibility
responsibility affects how an individual carry out life and how one makes an effort and undertakings to achieve all the desires in life. As we mature, our responsibilities become more comprehensibly obvious – responsibility to ourselves, to our family, to our friends, to the community and to the whole society.
It is very important to personally feel responsible in life. It is just right to take control of our life and learn to carry the weight of responsibility and the blame when something goes wrong.
We ought to do things that have been tasked to us whether for the benefit of ourselves or for others. We need to awake the general consciousness within us to be aware of the responsibilities assigned to us.
Setting aside the fear of unknown could help us get in the way.
Trying to do new things or going into another path will help us grow and realize many things that we have to keep in mind. Giving ourselves limitless chances to grow and putting no boundaries in learning would help us face our responsibilities in a lighter way – unleashing our true potentials and stepping out our comfort zones. A case when sense of responsibility is working with us.
Responsibility extends beyond ourselves
Responsibility extends beyond ourselves and our own well-being and needs. It does not just talk about oneself but encompassing the totality of an individual and the whole society you are being into.
Feel the true freedom of choosing what you will do, when you are going to do and for whom you are going to do it. To mature is taking all your responsibilities in life. Make the purpose of your responsibilities at its highest peak of desire on exercising and sharing the sense of humanity. Respond to life at your own terms and be independently seeking for your own growth and instead of being a liability, be an asset of the society. With this, let me ask you, how do you practice your responsibilities in life?
What do you call someone who avoids responsibility?
be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.
The real difference between being responsible and being irresponsible
What Is Power
What is power? How is it used? Why are people motivated to acquire and accumulate it? Important questions to consider in trying to develop a full understanding of how the world works. How power affects and influences us.
This essay seeks to elucidate a better understanding of power, its types and character underlying it. By necessity it will only touch the surface. So much can be said about it, and so many examples of it are evident throughout history.
Power is in the realms of psychology and sociology.
Wisdom is in the realm of philosophy. “Philosophy” literally means ‘the love of wisdom’. In some ways they are quite related but they do not always go hand in hand with one another.
When the two intersect history has shown great benefits can be achieved. When they diverge often chaos and turmoil.
Power and wisdom are different aspects of human nature that have developed over many centuries. Wisdom without power is harmless. Power without wisdom can be dangerous and destructive.
Power intrinsically is neutral, neither good nor bad.
Once possessed it can be used to significantly advance the common good through the supportive actions of others. It reflects one’s will to the outside world through influencing other people.
Personal power can attract many people towards another human being, inspiring them to seek their company and advice. People with personal power often change the course of other people’s lives. Depending upon the motives, it may be for the better or lead them down a dark or sinister path.
The real difference between being responsible and being irresponsible
The real difference between being responsible and being irresponsible is an indication of how effectively we’re managing our lives when the opportunity to make a good or bad choice presents itself. Accepting responsibility – both personal and indirect responsibility – is one of the most important factors in defining a person’s true character. When that responsible moment comes, what you do – or don’t do – is an indication of the type of person you really are.
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