Ten Ways to Gain Initiative by Giving Authority

authority is permission to act without permission

Ineffective leaders seize and hoard authority; successful leaders give it. Those who cling to authority loose it. Those who give authority gain authority.

Authority is permission to act without permission.

Control freaks never inspire initiative. The more they control the less initiative – acting without permission – others take. Inspire initiative by giving authority.


Giving authority enhances your authority.

Releasing others to act apart from your direct guidance motivates them to seek your guidance. Delegating decisions enhances commitment to you and your organization.

People who believe they matter act like they matter.

Giving authority:

  1. Train and equip to handle authority effectively.
  2. Begin slowly.
  3. Establish structures and systems that guide and limit authority.
  4. Give decisions to those impacted by decisions.
  5. Create titles. Titles convey authority and they don’t cost anything.
  6. Create revised, temporary chains of command based on organizational context and team member competence.
  7. Publicly explain new authority.
  8. Establish the authority of others by deferring to those with expertise.
  9. Share benefits and consequences of mistakes. Teams who hire a poor fit need to deal with replacing or reassigning them, for example.
  10. Never neglect your authority.


Give teams authority to hire co-workers.


You lose authority when others believe you are neglecting authority or passing the buck. Giving authority isn’t an excuse to not do your job.

Giving authority – asking people to act without permission – is the leaders job.

Who to trust with authority:

  1. Do they clearly understand, embrace, and exemplify values, mission, and vision?
  2. Do they understand organizational context and consequences of decisions?
  3. Have they demonstrated competence?
  4. Do they embrace accountability for choices? How have they dealt with past failures? Blame or responsibility.

Gain authority by giving it.

How can leaders effectively give authority?