What and Who Are You Responsible For?

A leader, at every level of an organization, must clearly understand WHAT he or she is responsible for. Equally important is WHO they are responsible for. An effective leader understands what is expected of them and knows who is on their team to get the job done. The responsibilities of providing direction, personnel and material resources belongs, to some degree,  to the next higher tier of leadership. While each of these elements are critical in successful operations, I would like to focus on knowing your people; the ones who have been tasked with getting the work done.

The grandest of plans will not be any more successful than the capabilities of those who are executing it. But capabilities are not enough. They may be highly capable, meaning they have the inherent physical or mental ability to accomplish the work, but if they lack the proper training and resources then the plan is doomed to failure.

  • A leader who is planning for success will be able to answer the following questions about their people:
  • How well do I know my direct reports?
  • Do I know their capabilities and deficiencies?
  • Am I providing training that will enable them to grow and be more effective?
  • Have I clearly communicated expectations and am I confident they understand them?
  • Have I provided the material resources for them to be successful?
  • Do I regularly ask them if they need anything else from me in resources and/or direction?
  • Am I getting what I need from the next tier to provide what my people need?


There is another aspect of responsible leadership that involves a mix of plans and people; maintaining status quo or anticipating future challenges? A good leader will have a grasp of their people’s readiness to take on future challenges. This is somewhat subjective, but a specific test would be to ask yourself ‘What if….?’.

What if our output demand doubles?

What if there is a shift in market trends and we have to re-tool, or revamp our process?

In either case, having individuals in mind whom you are training to fill leadership roles can markedly improve your ability to respond quickly and efficiently.

While this may all seem academic, these are real-world issues that impact every organization, regardless of size. Know who is working for and with you. Help them be successful and provide training that will capitalize on their capabilities. It is PEOPLE who do the work of your organization. It is the leader’s job to enable them to be successful.