teambuilding leadership coaching organization development expert michael cardus

Autonomy the ability to be self-governed to have control over what you feel should be done and when you feel you should do it.

Something we all say we want, something that many organization development and team building professionals say is necessary. Like the image says above.

Setting clear goals can backfire if it amounts to nothing more than telling people what to do and how to do it.

But should all people be fully autonomous, able to carry out things when they wish in whatever manner that feel is appropriate? How can this idea fit within a Managerial-Accountability-Hierarchy where there are different levels and skills, and knowledge, and contexts of complexity

This tension is between individual needs and organizational needs and how do you balance the two while keeping people engaged, happy and productive.

On to the Inquiry:

Can autonomy exist within organizational constraints? And if so, how?


  • If you are a manager, how do you set goals and delegate tasks in a way that allows people to make choices on how to best carry those task, while remaining within the rules and regulations, policies and procedures of the organization?
  • Think about your work, how much autonomy do you have? Is your view accurate?
  • How much control does your manager have?
  • How much control does the organization (as a whole) have over the way work gets done?
  • The tension between individual autonomy and organizational structure/constraints can play out weird and interesting ways…What behavior do you notice when people feel that the organizational constraints get in the way?
  • Who has the authority, accountability, ability to change the levels of autonomy people have?
  • How bound to the ‘rules’ do you feel?
  • In what way does that feeling affect your work?

Share your thoughts and responses

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