Seven Levels of Authority
Delegation of control is sometimes seen as a binary choice: Either you delegate something, or you don’t. But from Situational Leadership Theory we learned that our options for managing Agile teams are more varied than that. And I believe we can extend the four levels of Situational Leadership Theory to the Seven Levels of Authority:
- Tell: You make decisions and announce them to your people. (This is actually not delegation at all.)
- Sell: You make decisions, but you try to “sell” your idea to your team. It is delegation by informing your people of your motivation.
- Consult: You invite and weigh input from workers. It is delegation by consulting your people before coming to a decision.
- Agree: You invite workers to join in a discussion and to reach consensus as a group. Your voice is equal to the others.
- Advise: You attempt to influence workers by giving them advice, but you leave it up to them to decide what to do with your opinion.
- Inquire: You let the team decide. And afterwards you inquire about their motivations, or you ask that they actively keep you informed.
- Delegate: You leave it entirely up to the team to deal with the matter, and you don’t even need to know which decisions they make.
The Seven Levels of Authority (Figure 3) improve upon the four “leadership styles” of Situational Leadership Theory by clearly distinguishing between informing and consulting (as suggested by the RACI matrix). It also adds an extra final level which is not covered in Situational Leadership Theory, because in Agile Management this final level is the ultimate goal.
Figure 3 Seven Levels of Authority
Unlike the RACI matrix, the Seven Levels of Authority should not be applied to individual tasks and deliverables. Instead, they are applied to key decision areas. And unlike the RACI matrix, we do not distinguish between people who are responsible versus those who are accountable. In Agile software development, those who are responsible are also accountable.