Chapter 39 Be Accountable Without Control

This one's scent is subtle—until it happens to you. Then you'll smell it well into the next quarter.

Accepting responsibility without control is something thousands of people do unwittingly every day. They are tasked, for example, with reducing costs or managing people or running a project. But (and this is the mother of all "buts") they do not have the final authority or decision-making power over the way to get there or what actually constitutes success, which is often a moving target.

Therefore, the finger can be pointed at you if and when it fails, to whatever extent, because you are accountable for its success even though the rules were written and changed by others.

Is this you? If not, it's the person in the office or cubicle next to yours. (It's you.) If you are not given the tools, authority, time, money, choice of team, etc. required to do the job properly, yet you are responsible for its successful outcome, why are you taking responsibility in the first place?

It's one thing to dig a hole with a spoon if you're not given a shovel. It's another thing to dig it in the same amount of time. Reality, control, authority-they are all fundamental to managing a project to success.

There may be times you simply will not have a choice in the matter, but you must fight hard, very hard, for the authority and control you need to make it happen. Accepting responsibility is a good thing; being accountable without control is quite another. You increase your odds of failure, and that can't be good for your company.

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