Lesson 6: High Performing Self-Organizing Accountability Systems
Part 1: Distributing Power through Roles

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Goals for this Lesson

  • Learn how to clearly distribute authority and roles within your team’s scopes
  • Gain an understanding of how to resolve the issues of hierarchy and unequal power dynamics
  • Gain an understanding and a free template to clarify jobs and strengthen accountability

Learning Activities

  1. Watch the Lesson 6 training video (below).
  2. Review the Role Generation exercise on pages 113-116 in the Instructional. This is one way to bring the role practice into an organization. You also have a detailed version of this in your supplemental materials (below).
  3. Check out the supplemental materials (below).

Training Video

*Click the full screen arrows on the bottom right corner of the video to enter full screen. 


Tips and Tricks

  • Use your own life and work as an example and make a list of your own roles. Think about what projects are on your plate, this will help you understand which roles you are holding. If you’d like, bring them to a live call for input.
  • Record any questions, comments, or issues that come up for you during the course of your learning and bring them to the live calls for support.


Respond to the following prompts:

We all hold multiple roles in our work and lives, sometimes making it difficult to track our to-do lists. What came up for you in this lesson? Try identifying the roles you are holding in all the “scopes” of your life. Share what you came up with and how that’s the same or different from your “Job Description.”

**Do you have some thoughts about how we can improve the course?  Please take a few minutes to give us feedback here!


  1. Anna

    I appreciate Cecile’s explanation of the difference between a job position and roles (in the comments). It’s a concept I understand in my head, but have had a hard time identifying and explaining to others outwardly.

    Filling personal roles is an interesting concept to consider. Although I have my own definitions of the related accountabilities of being a “daughter”, each of my sisters, who also fill the role of “daughter,” likely think of different accountabilities related to the role. Although I’ve been practicing in roles at work for over 2 years, I’ve never really thought to transfer that structure to my personal life. I can see how it would create so much more clarity to identify my roles and the accountabilities within those roles. Although I think it’s harder to stick to specific accountabilities in personal relationships, as opposed to doing so at work, it forces me to think more clearly about why I’m worrying about this thing that’s not really within my accountabilities, but rather is the accountability of my relative. Gives me clarity and frees up my mind for my own concerns!

    • Rebecca Fisher McGinty

      Hi Anna,
      Thanks for the thoughtful commentary and connection to your life! I think that we perhaps see this sense of individual action to ensure that our relationships and work are still tended to, even without that very useful clarity because needs, projects, contexts, etc are indeed constantly changing.
      It is an interesting experiment to consider roles and accountabilities in various aspects of our lives. I’d love to hear more about any new discoveries you have with this experiment!

  2. Cabot

    In my job, I’ve taken the initiative on a couple of occasions to define the various roles that I do, and i think my boss kinda gets what i’m trying to do, but in our resource-stretched environment, which is largely bereft of habits that would generate and evolve structure, my unilaterally-initiated definitions are soon forgotten. This keeps the whole thing more implicit than explicit. I have found it helpful to do the exercise because I am more aware of my own workload and accountabilities, much of which has been determined by me thru my willingness to take things on. in this way, the system seems to be relying on individuals like me to take the initiative and develop our own accountabilities. One problem created this way is that our authorities are equally implicit and possibly not supported by the higher-ups, which can really undermine autonomous power – especially for someone like me who likes to know that what i’m doing has support and fits well with the rest of the department. I think I end up doing a lot of analyzing and agonizing that could be avoided with the kind of clear structures you are talking about.

    • Cecile Green

      Hey Cabot! Sounds like you are taking useful action to get your roles clear. I have a couple of questions for you: are these roles and accountabilities written down somewhere that’s mutually accessible and visible? If so, when other’s forget, you can point them to that repository for reference. Also sounds like your team/org really needs clear strategic priorities. Does your team have those? Could you offer to facilitate a conversation where those are clarified? If you can get priorities clear, then you will spend less time agonizing over whether what you are focused on is in alignment and has the support it needs. Also, I’m wondering if your team has regular meetings? If so, that’s a great place to step up and offer to facilitate using Collab’s structure. Best of luck!

  3. Noemi

    In my organization, we’ve had to go over the difference between “roles” and “positions” a lot, and there’s been quite a lot of confusion. Maybe you should say a little bit about how these two concepts overlap and differ. Thanks.

    • cecilemgreen

      Thanks for the question Noemi! A job position details the relationship between an individual and the organization including what roles they are holding, how many hours they work, how they will be compensated, any any other relevant details. Roles are a subset of positions that specify the concrete work an individual has the authority and accountability to do.

  4. Noemi

    I hold a lot of roles in my organization and in my private life. Going through them helps to bring up ideas about how to deliver on some of them more effectively or to pass on my accountabilities to somebody else.


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