The Art of Strengths Coaching

A is for Accountability, Autonomy and Authority

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People like to set specific goals, do superb work and deliver success.

Many factors affect their ability to follow this path. These include having the freedom to be creative and make key decisions on the road towards delivering the agreed goals.

Imagine you have been offered a new role as a manager. You would like to take the role, but clear contracting is crucial.

Good workers are happy to be accountable. But they also need the autonomy and authority required to deliver success.

So let’s explore how you can get the right balance between the 3 As.

Clarifying
your accountability

Start by clarifying the real results you must achieve. Agree with your employer on ‘What’ must be delivered, ‘How’ and by ‘When’.

Play back your understanding to ensure that you all agree on the same picture.

Make crystal clear contracts. Your accountability rating for hitting the targets will be 10/10. So be absolutely sure about the results on which you will be judged.

Sometimes things can change, however, because events can alter what your employer needs you to deliver. So it can be useful to, in a diplomatic way, keep making clear contracts about the picture of success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking at the role for which you are applying, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific results you will be held accountable for delivering.

Describe, on a scale 0 – 10, the extent to which you believe you will be held accountable for delivering these results.

Describe the specific things you can do to keep making clear contracts about the agreed picture of success.

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Clarifying
your autonomy

Clarify the autonomy you will have to perform the role. Make sure it feels like you have at least 8/10 in terms of having the freedom to act.

You must operate within parameters, of course, but you need oxygen to breathe. Agree with the employer on the autonomy you will have, for example:

To set the team’s goals.

To set the team’s strategies.

To manage the team’s budget.

To decide who to hire and fire.

To do whatever is necessary to achieve the team’s goals.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the kinds of autonomy you would like to have in order to achieve the goals.

Describe, on a scale on 0 – 10, the extent to which you feel you will have the autonomy required to deliver the results.

Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve this rating.

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Clarifying
your authority

Clarify the authority you will have to perform the role. Make sure it feels like you have at least 8/10 in terms of having the power to act.

Autonomy and authority are intertwined, of course, but you need both to operate successfully. One manager explained:

“Several years ago I took a high profile European job with a stretching brief but no mandate.

“The company told me to implement a customer service programme across the region, but we were in the midst of matrix madness. ‘Dotted lines’ abounded everywhere and nobody took responsibility.

“Lacking direct power, I was supposed to influence the different countries into improving their customer service.

“My time was spent circling in the holding position above airports, attending meaningless meetings and eventually becoming dispirited.

“Learning from the tough experience, I got a clear brief and mandate before taking my present job.”

Clear contracting is crucial when taking a new role. This is especially important around the 3 As.

Getting the right balance of accountability, autonomy and authority will enable you to play to your strengths. You can then do superb work and deliver success.

If you wish, try completing the final exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the kinds of authority you would like to have in order to achieve the goals.

Describe, on a scale on to 10, the extent to which you feel you will have the authority to act.

Describe the specific things you can do to maintain or improve this rating.

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