Essays on Leadership: Great Responsibility needs Great Power talks about the need to empower your team with the necessary tools and resources in order for them to complete their tasks effectively.
You might have heard of the famous Spiderman quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
No doubt, if you have been given authority and decision making power, you must realize the lives and livelihoods that can be impacted by your decisions.
You therefore hold a great responsibility not just to yourself, but to others as well. But is the converse true?
If with great power comes great responsibility, does it mean that to have great responsibility requires power as well?
Yes, I would argue.
If you would delegate responsibility to someone, you need to equip that person with the power as well.
Managers and leaders often commit the mistake of giving people responsibility and not giving them the corresponding power to execute their responsibilities well.
How many people have you met that were frustrated with their jobs simply because they had job responsibilities that they did not have power to fulfill?
They try their very best, but they become resigned or frustrated because they realize they simply do not have the resources; decision making power; time to fulfill it.
In other words, they were given a task, but they were not given the resources to complete that task. “Conquer that land and rule over it! Here, you shall have a measly soldier for your mission.”
Is it any surprise that the mission will not be completed?
But sadly, that’s how managers often treat their staff.
Most people are capable of good judgement and can fulfil tasks with relative competency.
That is, if you give them sufficient resources, they will be able to achieve what is asked of them. More often than not, it is leaders that underestimate the resources required of the task, and as a result, under-equip their team.
Resources can come in the form of manpower, time, finances, and whatever is required to fulfil the task at hand.
Besides the lack of resources, another mistake that managers and leaders make is to not give their team the full decision making power over their resources.
Maybe the resources have been given, but yet, maybe out of insecurity or the need for control, power has not been delegated to the team member or staff to execute the task.
So every time a team member wants to make a decision, they have to go back to the manager and consult if the decision is okay with him. In essence, the decision maker becomes the manager again.
That is simply not good leadership. That is soul-killing micromanagement.
As a leader, you want bring out the potential of every person by giving him the resources necessary for the task and then trusting him to complete the job!
Imagine this, a king sends a general to a faraway land to invade and conquer. He gives the general sufficient resources, soldiers, supplies, horses and weapons to last the expected period of the war.
But he tells the general that every move the general makes must be checked through with the king first. If he wants to pitch camp, he must check with the king; if he wants to adopt a flanking strategy, he must too, check with the king.
Can you imagine how FRUSTRATING that will be for the general?
The army would be so ineffective that nothing will probably be done. And it’s going to be the general’s fault.
You see how incredulous that is? But yet, that’s what most managers do. They send their team on a mission, but they do not trust them enough to make the right choices, so they micromanage.
In the end, the manager gets dismal results because of it. Whose fault is it really?
If you’re a leader, remember to trust your team!
Give them the resources that they need, and give them power to execute the task or the mission.
If you’re going to give them the responsibility, give them the power as well.
You will find that you actually have a team of truly capable generals that can execute and perform when they are truly given these.
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With greater power comes greater responsibility
Power something which we all have dreamt of. It is something that lures us. But in our quest to gain power we all tend to overlook the responsibilities accompanied with the power, in fact they hardly comes to our mind when we think of power. There is no fixed definition for power it has different meaning for different individuals but the fact remains they wield influence over people by virtue of power, and hence the reason it lures us.
It is the lack of awareness or our tendency to look responsibility and power separately has created many problems by disturbing the order of society. Today the person in whom power is vested tends to enjoy all the power wielded in him but is not ready to accept the responsibility that comes with it. It is evident phenomena that no one comes to take responsibility of any wrong doing everybody tries to play a blame game especially in politics.
As all of us know the principle of proportionality, and we must know that power howsoever small or big comes with proportional responsibility as these two are complimentary to each other. History is full of facts to show us the disastrous effect of violation of this principle of proportionality be ancient history or modern times, every part of history teaches us to respect the principle of proportionality otherwise one has to face great repercussion.
This holds good in contemporary scenario. Sovereign state is all powerful and the welfare state like us is powerful not as privileged but because of the responsibilities vested. Because of our colonial past, impoverished state of our economy, leader of nation chose India to make a welfare state so that it could take care of its people and empower them so that they could develop their potential.
Necessity of power could be realised by the fact that the responsibility of security of nation is vested in government and hence there must be accompanied power so that state could take decision to do the same. On the flip side we also see that whereas power is vested is settled fact but when something goes wrong the power wielder does not recognise his responsibility. State needs to provide food, shelter, livelihood a peaceful environment maintained by law and order. The whole bunch of responsibility is cause of discretion to people who carry out this responsibility. Discretion, in fact, is source of power.
Things are good when everything is proportion but sadly as widely perceived phenomena especially in political area, we see the opposite.
In order to gain power some position does not hesitate to compromise public welfare and trust, maintenance of which is their responsibility. As a result criminalisation of politics and politicisation of criminals, nexus of corruption, crony capitalism are daily phenomena. Newspapers are full of descriptions of these acts. In endeavour to gain power political parties do not hesitate from spreading communal harted and let go the responsibility of maintaining law and order situation.
These are the most visible and criticised examples of not being able to value the principle of proportionality, there are many more examples to add, on each and every sphere be business, sports or entertainment industry. We have many examples of influential people getting clean chits, even after wrong doing, by virtue of power.
Where we see many examples of excessive power and low responsibility, we also have example of handicap and helplessness created by excessive responsibility and low power. The most evident example in almost every urban area is working of municipalities, where they are laden with so many responsibilities but there is not adequate power vested in them to have necessary funds and maintain its functionaries. The same is true in rural area where panchayat is handicapped by paucity of funds and functionaries and hence unable to fulfil its responsibilities.
We have several mechanisms in place to put the things in order as separation of power as envisaged in constitution checks the power vested in an institution and restrain it from exercising power arbitrarily, hence maintaining balance between power and responsibility. Likewise we have Lobbying Bodies, Public Pressure, Media, NGOs etc. to maintain the delicate balance.
As going by the saying "with great power comes great responsibility" we must prepare ourselves for the responsibilities that would fall upon us in our quest to gain power. We see that both ways the disturbance of balance is not good but situation of more power and less responsibility is more pronounced. So we must move toward a culture where we are taught to take on the responsibilities and executing them successfully.