December 15, 2017

All The Responsibility, But No Authority – Get Over It!

After all of these years, we in the Product Management discipline still hang on our mantra of “All The Responsibility, But No Authority“.   I guess we are beholden to this as it makes a great excuse and it allows us all to commiserate with each other.   Well, GET OVER IT!   You have as much authority as you work to earn.

Two Types of Authority

There are Essentially Two Types of Authority:  Given Authority and Earned Authority

Given Authority is based upon our title or position within an organization.   This allows us to influence our subordinates because we have the ability to hire and fire.

Earned Authority is based upon establishing respect and credibility within an organization by what we do and say on an everyday basis.   This authority also enables us to use influence to achieve results because others in the organization trust us and respect our leadership.

Now I have been in positions where someone had Given Authority, but did not have Earned Authority and I would much rather work with someone that had Earned Authority and no Given Authority.

Product Managers, You Have as Much Authority as You Work to Earn!

The good news is that Product Managers can earn authority and here are some things that you can do to develop Earned Authority:

I’ve teased you a little bit here, but I will address each of these points in future posts.  But in the meantime, quite complaining about no authority and start earning it!


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