Leadership: How much authority is mine and theirs?

Leadership entails authority and responsibility. As the leader, you have the weight of the project, ministry or group of people on your shoulders. It is clear that an individual’s wisdom and strength is not as good as that of many. It is also clear that sometimes the buck has to stop somewhere.

The following concept of different levels of authority was introduced to me a few years ago and helped me greatly as a team member and leader grasp how people can know their role and responsibility in a given structure or even moment in time. Also, this helps in understanding the role and responsibility of fellow team members and those over you in authority.

The book, Joy at Work, by Raymond Bakke, Brad Smith, William Hendricks lists four kinds of authority and how they work.

POINT – this is the authority to make a decision by a particular single person. If I am point, our worship ministry and can make many decisions on my own if need be. Basically, sometimes it does make sense for one person to own a project wholly.

INPUT – this authority means that those on the team have their opinions recorded and those over them have to account as to what they did what those opinions. So, if I am POINT, I then am accountable to tell those with INPUT why I did not listen to them in my decision making. It is healthy to share the decision-making process, and if the input is taken without respecting the content of that input then trust and morale could tank.

VETO – this is the reserved for the board, or CEO or primary leader. Basically, a rare occurrence if you are smart and when done its due to the top leader(s) not informing the process, rather than a hammer coming down. If a leader at the very top just vetoes all the time, obviously no one will dare make ANY decisions and your ministry or organization will be bottlenecked.

INFORMATION – even those outside of making decisions need to know what the decisions are. It is clear that in a healthy environment,  what actual decisions are made will be publicized and communicated. If a church staff decides a change, but cannot publicly communicate it well, the congregation might lose trust by learning in pieces the news. Or, the direction might be thwarted because people, in general, are not clear as to the intention of the leadership.

What is your take on this? Do you think this makes sense, or should we not include a broader and ordered method in making decisions? *Joy at Work, 2005, by Raymond Bakke, Brad Smith, William Hendricks (page 79)

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

16 comments

  1. I use a similar ‘grid’ for filtering when I hold meetings. Being clear on how decisions are made is crucial to the team’s success.

    1. Not so sure this is a meeting grid, but I can see how one would help. Really, its about why you would even have a meeting in the first place! Here is an example: If you have a meeting and you are the leader and ask for input, but are never accountable for that, then you misunderstand as a leader the input authority of your team.

  2. I use a similar ‘grid’ for filtering when I hold meetings. Being clear on how decisions are made is crucial to the team’s success.

    1. Not so sure this is a meeting grid, but I can see how one would help. Really, its about why you would even have a meeting in the first place! Here is an example: If you have a meeting and you are the leader and ask for input, but are never accountable for that, then you misunderstand as a leader the input authority of your team.

  3. I use a similar ‘grid’ for filtering when I hold meetings. Being clear on how decisions are made is crucial to the team’s success.

    1. Not so sure this is a meeting grid, but I can see how one would help. Really, its about why you would even have a meeting in the first place! Here is an example: If you have a meeting and you are the leader and ask for input, but are never accountable for that, then you misunderstand as a leader the input authority of your team.

  4. I use a similar ‘grid’ for filtering when I hold meetings. Being clear on how decisions are made is crucial to the team’s success.

    1. Not so sure this is a meeting grid, but I can see how one would help. Really, its about why you would even have a meeting in the first place! Here is an example: If you have a meeting and you are the leader and ask for input, but are never accountable for that, then you misunderstand as a leader the input authority of your team.

  5. That’s an extremely coherent way of putting some often-unspoken principles in black-and-white. Makes quite a bit of sense to me; a few thoughts and processes here that I can implement immediately and should help at least one situation I’m dealing with. That is, it’ll help me address it correctly.
    Thanks!

    1. Awesome Dean! Knowing roles and responsibilities is one of the keys to communication in a work environment I believe. We all need to know boundaries and all need accountability no matter our role or authority level.

  6. That’s an extremely coherent way of putting some often-unspoken principles in black-and-white. Makes quite a bit of sense to me; a few thoughts and processes here that I can implement immediately and should help at least one situation I’m dealing with. That is, it’ll help me address it correctly.
    Thanks!

    1. Awesome Dean! Knowing roles and responsibilities is one of the keys to communication in a work environment I believe. We all need to know boundaries and all need accountability no matter our role or authority level.

  7. That’s an extremely coherent way of putting some often-unspoken principles in black-and-white. Makes quite a bit of sense to me; a few thoughts and processes here that I can implement immediately and should help at least one situation I’m dealing with. That is, it’ll help me address it correctly.
    Thanks!

    1. Awesome Dean! Knowing roles and responsibilities is one of the keys to communication in a work environment I believe. We all need to know boundaries and all need accountability no matter our role or authority level.

  8. That’s an extremely coherent way of putting some often-unspoken principles in black-and-white. Makes quite a bit of sense to me; a few thoughts and processes here that I can implement immediately and should help at least one situation I’m dealing with. That is, it’ll help me address it correctly.
    Thanks!

    1. Awesome Dean! Knowing roles and responsibilities is one of the keys to communication in a work environment I believe. We all need to know boundaries and all need accountability no matter our role or authority level.

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