Authority or Responsibility?

My new boss asked me, “Which do you want: authority or responsibility?”

It was my first week of work. He didn’t hire me; I was assigned to him.

“Are you one of those guys who just wants power? Do you crave telling people what to do?” he said with disdain.

I had been expecting him to say, “Hi! It’s great to have you on my team.” I kept quiet and listened.

He gathered momentum. “Or are you willing to take responsibility for results? Are you ready to do the hard work, get the job done, and overcome all obstacles?”

I’m paraphrasing now. It was a long time ago, and mostly I remember that he made good points in a pretty overbearing and obnoxious manner. He’s right, I thought, but he’s also kind of a jerk.

Four months later he left the company suddenly and I took over responsibility for a new product line he had started but couldn’t get off the ground. In three years, I took sales from zero to $20 million.

Yeah, I was ready for the responsibility. But I also was able to be an actual human being at work.


OTHERwise Copyright © by Bruce Kasanoff. All Rights Reserved.

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