Engaging Employees in Responsibility

This special post is an excerpt from Ken Blanchard’s classic book, The Heart of a Leader, and is reprinted with permission. His message to managers is also key to engaging employees in their work.

“If you want your people to be responsible, be responsive to their needs.”

“The traditional hierarchy is okay for goal setting. People look to the head of their department and to the top of the organization for direction. But once goals are clear, the pyramid should in essence be turned upside down. This way the customers are at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the customer contact people, while the president and chairman of the board are at the bottom.

“When this philosophy is implemented, your role as a leader changes from being ‘responsible’ to ‘responsive.’ Your job becomes to work with your people rather than having them work for you. Being responsive to your people’s needs sets them free to be responsible (able to respond) to getting the job done.

“Make your people responsible for doing high-quality work by responding to their needs and supporting them. That places the responsibility at the appropriate level–with the people who do the work.”

© 1999 Ken Blanchard. The Heart of a Leader is published by David C. Cook. All rights reserved.


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