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  • WSL Leadership

The Key to Balancing Freedom and Responsibility

Leaders need to pay attention to both the details and people doing the work while also having the entire picture in mind. All while balancing the responsibilities and freedom needs of the teammates.

Too much responsibility without adequate support is the fast track to burnout, and too little freedom is the road to resentment. Too little responsibility and too much freedom means the work doesn’t get done efficiently or well.

I doubt it is possible to get the balance between freedom and responsibility just right for all your teammates all the time -- that’s why trust is so important.

Trust is slow to build and fast to lose. The most effective ways to build trust are to act consistently with your stated values, connect with your teammates, follow through with your commitments and communicate effectively.

When you trust your teammates, and they trust you and your leadership, the times when freedom and responsibility are out of balance are more tolerable - as long as they are the exception and not the norm.

Trust also smooths out the balance between when your focus is on the details and when it is on the big picture. When teammates trust that you have both their and the team’s best interests in mind, they are more willing to respond positively to change -- whether that change is something the teammate needs to do specifically or a more significant change for the entire team.

If you are challenged by teammates feeling resentful or encounter significant resistance to change, my first question is: how much trust is there between everyone involved? Considering the trust first may be the quickest route to accomplishing your goals.


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