According to author Peter Drucker, a responsible worker is a person who “not only is accountable to specific results, but also has the authority to do whatever is necessary to produce these results, and finally, is committed to these results as a personal achievement.”
Many managers get the first part of this equation right. They assign tasks to workers and expect them to achieve predetermined results. But, frequently, that's all. Often, managers don't really provide their employees with enough accountability to do great work. For instance, when was the last time you had a manager take credit for your work? When a manager takes all the credit, it removes the workers' sense of personal accountability for their work, and, in fact, destroys any connection that worker had to his work, and any evidence that the worker achieved the work himself.
Also, managers frequently handcuff their employees by not providing the tools, systems, or authority to “do whatever is necessary” to produce results. For instance, a manager may expect their worker to be responsible for dealing with customer satisfaction, but not allow the worker to fix a customer problem without requests, approvals, paperwork, or waiting in line to get answers. It’s like holding your teenager accountable for cutting the grass, but not supplying gas for the lawn mower.
No Accountability. No Authority. No Achievement.
Anyone who has worked in an organization can attest to the fact that when they have neither the real accountability, nor the authority to do a job, they'll make no true commitment, and likely not treat their work's results as a personal achievement. A hard-dollar consequence to the organization is that such people underperform. They hold back. They focus their energy on other interests in life — on family, on charity, on relationships with friends, on school. They do not focus their energy on producing results within the organization.
So the secret to being an exceptional manager is to enable others to be accountable and give them authority to “do whatever is necessary.” By giving workers the tools and support to help them view their work as a personal achievement, managers can achieve more, and better, work results.