Make Sure to Distinguish Authority and Competence

Andy Stanley makes this point well in Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future:

Every leader has authority over arenas in which he has little or no competence. When we exert our authority in an area where we lack competence, we can derail projects and demotivate those who have the skills we lack.

On any given Sunday morning, I have the authority to walk into our video control room and start barking out orders. The fact that I don’t know the first thing about what’s going on in there does not diminish my authority. Eventually the crew would do what I asked them to do. But the production would suffer horribly. If I were to do that Sunday after Sunday, our best and brightest volunteers would leave. Eventually our paid staff would start looking for something else to do as well.

There is no need to become an expert in, or even to understand, every component of your organization. When you try to exercise authority within a department that is outside your core competencies, you will hinder everything and everyone under your watch. If you fail to distinguish between authority and competence, you will exert your influence in ways that damage projects and people.

June 29, 2011 | Filed Under Leadership | 1 Comment 

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