Accountability. Responsibility. Authority.

Are you a Physical Therapy Private Practice Owner who is doing too much yourself? Here’s a primer on the differences and overlap of Accountability, Responsibility, and Authority.

The following comes from Andy Bailey at Petra Coach. And of course, credit to Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up!

Accountability Does Not Mean Responsibility or Authority

Although the words “accountability,” “responsibility” and “authority” are used interchangeably in business, they shouldn’t be. Verne Harnish explains their specific differences in his book Scaling Up.

Accountability is literally the person with “the ability to count.” In other words, the accountable person is the one who is tracking the progress of a goal and making it known when there is no advancement.

This person is not necessarily the decision-maker. He or she is there to keep the horse moving. And as a general rule, there should be only one person accountable. As Harnish puts it, “If more than one person is accountable, then no one is accountable and that’s when things fall through the cracks.”

Responsibility is literally the person with “the ability to respond.” That means they are the ones to proactively step in and support the team, especially to carry out specific processes or to work out certain issues.

Authority is the end-all-be-all decision-maker. This person holds the reins and makes the calls on how a process will be carried out, how an issue will be solved and who is responsible and accountable for them.

As you move up the ranks in a company, some of these lines start to blur a bit. For example, someone in the management might be both accountable for and responsible for a specific process. Depending on the role, this person also may have authority over the way the process is handled.

Make sure every person on your team knows what their role is on this spectrum, and you’d be surprised how much more gets done.
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