It is common for us to want full autonomy in our decision making. When running a team and a project, we want the ability to make decisions without having to check-in or confer with anyone else. Basically we don’t want to ask for permission in order to make decisions. To have that range of autonomy is much more risky than we’re aware of. The burden of autonomy is heavy once you understand the impact and ramifications of the responsibility placed upon you.
Having full autonomy to make any decisions you see fit sounds great, doesn’t it? Not having to ask for permission to make decisions is empowering. It bolden us to take higher risks and aim for greater success. What we fail to consider is the burden of autonomy that we have on us when we are empowered with such autonomy.
When given full autonomy, it comes with great expectations and burden. If not aware and careful with them, doom lurks right around the corner. But that is the common case with many leaders. Given full autonomy, we lack the understanding of the burden of autonomy that’s been placed on us. Here are some burden of autonomy to consider when given such responsibility.
- Business impact – Each and every decision we make now falls on our shoulder. Our decisions directly impacts the direction of the business. Success or failure becomes our burden to bare. There’s no getting around it, having full autonomy means to own full blame for failure. On the other hand, with success, we do get the credit for success. But any success must be deflected and given to our teams. The burden of failure becomes ours, and ours alone to bare.
- Team consideration – With full autonomy, we get to directly impact and direct the direction our team takes. We run our teams and our projects exactly the way we want and the way we see fit. That also means that bad decisions we make will also have to fall on us. We take on the burden alone for the failure to make the correct decisions. Any bad decisions impacts not only us but everyone within our team. The larger the team, the more individuals we effect. It’s a great burden and can bring great worry and stress.
- Trust – We’ve spent our entire career to make it to the leadership position we’re in. Much more effort and sacrifices were made to gain the autonomy received. We’ve gained the trust from the business and the upper management team who’ve given us the full autonomy to run our teams and projects. Poor decisions and failures will start to chip away the trust we’ve built up our entire career. There’s great risks to the trust we’ve built and losing trust is difficult to regain.
- Personal reputation – Aside from risking the trust others have placed on us, we put our personal reputation on the line. We’ve staked our name onto each and every decision we make. Every failure will be a hit to our reputation. If not careful, we may damage the great reputation we’ve built our entire career.
- Future – The outcome of the autonomy given to us will have longer lasting effects than the current results. If we don’t deliver success with the given autonomy, we will not be given further opportunities for full autonomy in the future. Not only that, but each and every decision we want to make moving forward will be questioned and doubted. Our future is on the line when given full autonomy to lead.
We must respect the autonomy given to us. When making decisions, we must do so with integrity. Putting the success of the business and our team before ourselves goes a long way. You can read more about integrity in my article Leadership Integrity here. Following the CHIE leadership model will help navigate the burden of autonomy and help you achieve your goals. You can read more about CHIE here.
Understanding the burden of autonomy, it may no longer sound appealing. There’s are great burden of autonomy on us and we must be aware of those burden. We must take care of the autonomy, responsibilities and trusts given to us. Any success from the decisions we make are given to our teams. All the failures are on us to own. It’s the loneliness of leadership that we take on, which you can read more about in my article Lonely Leaders here. That is the burden of autonomy we bare.
Photo by: Dooder
Denny Nguyen, a veteran IT leader and experienced operational manager with 15+ years working in the software and software related service industry. Currently, Denny oversees global operations of LogiGear including IT infrastructure and services, and facility worldwide and marketing and business development for the APAC region.
Started out as a test engineer, Denny has excelled his career into project management, IT management, account management, customer relation management, and marketing and sales management. In 2004, when LogiGear began to establish its present in Vietnam with two Software Testing & Research centers in Saigon and the third center in 2009 in Danang, Denny was instrumental and the key leader who was chartered to build out the entire foundation and infrastructure for LogiGear to grow for the next twenty years.