Leadership, Responsibility and Authority

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What is Leadership?

Leadership is the ability or action of you to guide other individuals, teams or organisations toward a desired outcome.  This is not related to the hierarchy of an individual in a company, but rather your capability to influence others to follow your step.

When thinking about an organisation, it would be assumed that the leader would be the CEO. But if this person does not know how to effectively guide the rest of the team in a way that pushes them to reach desired outcomes, this means the CEO may not have leadership potential. It may sometimes be found that line-managers show more leadership skills than top level managers, relating back to the idea that leadership is not about hierarchies.

In saying this, just because someone doesn’t show natural leadership potential, they can work on this and learn how demonstrate leadership by enhancing particular skills. Some of these skills could include being able to share a vision with others, the ability to motivate, show emotional intelligence by being empathetic, and acting as a support system to others.


What does responsibility mean?

Responsibility refers to the duty of you having control over something or someone.  If you are responsible for something, you will be held accountable for the outcome of what comes from it, as this was your duty.

Responsibility often comes with consequences if what is being asked cannot be carried out to the desired result. This means, that you will be obligated to carry out a task assigned to you in the best way possible.

It is important that you take responsibility for your actions, particularly while in the work place, as this will show that you are serious about the job at hand, and will demonstrate integrity and ownership.

Most organisations have built-in responsibilities, whether these be related to their employees, customers or society at large.  Being responsible for things is hard to avoid, and the better the organisation owns this responsibility, the better off they will be. In particular, organisations have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees at work. If an organisation chooses to ignore this responsibility for any given reason, the consequences for them could be catastrophic.


What does authority mean?

Authority is not the same as responsibility, as this refers to the ability to give out orders for someone else to carry out a task.  Having authority means that you can pass responsibility onto someone else by commanding them to do the task at hand.  This will then make them accountable for the task and will be in their interests to complete it. 

Unlike leadership, authority often does come with hierarchy or titles.  In an organisation, it is unlikely that line-manager will be able to give orders to the CEO, or make any big decisions for the company.  It is often going to be the CEO of a company who holds the most authority, and will be up to them on how much power they want to exert onto their employees.