Everything good on earth exists on a plane of duality. The existence of all things good and pleasurable are meaningless without life’s trials and tribulations.
Duality permeates everything, even business.
One of an entrepreneurs’ most significant dualities is the choice between freedom and responsibility. Should you establish a company culture centered on commitment? Or should you release your employees from the shackles of hidebound policies and grant them freedom?
The freedom and responsibility philosophy may look simple, but each has implications for a company’s operations. Your choice between the two can impact your team’s performance, morale, and work approach. Further, this will reflect your company’s competitiveness in today’s business landscape.
In other words, making the right choice matters.
At the intersection of freedom and responsibility lies one of the most fundamental questions in business: which is more important? That’s what we’ll debate in this article.
Here, we will explore freedom and responsibility from a marketing perspective. We’ll investigate what it means for businesses, which is more important and how they work side by side.
What Do Freedom and Responsibility Mean?
Freedom and responsibility are examples of paired opposites, a duality. They may be distinct concepts, but they are inseparable. Freedom means having the ability to choose your own actions and make decisions. On the other hand, responsibility entails being accountable and taking ownership of your choices.
To many, the relationship between freedom and responsibility is dichotomous, like a two-forked road. But that is a grave misconception. Freedom and responsibility are not a dichotomy but a duality.
An example of dichotomy is war and peace. The presence of either one nullifies the other. It is impossible to speak peace while tolerating a little bit of war. If war is happening between Ukraine and Russia, do we really live in peaceful times?
Conversely, duality is like hot and cold. While opposites, they are simply two states of temperature. You can modulate a temperature depending on your preference, which means duality is not a choice but a spectrum.
The freedom and responsibility philosophy follows the same principle. There is no legalistic choice between one or the other. Instead, you can control how much freedom and responsibility you will allow.
In business, freedom and responsibility are closely intertwined. For example, employees may be more free to approach their work or complete tasks. However, this comes with the expectation that they will also take accountability for their actions. Responsibility is the price of freedom.
This duality is a persistent enigma among residential home service companies I’ve worked with. Whichever you prioritize will impact employees and the company as a whole.
Below we’ll look at how freedom and responsibility work for two primary stakeholders in the workplace.
Business Owners and Contractors
Here’s the thing: freedom and responsibility work differently for business owners and employees. However, despite the contrast, freedom and responsibility are relevant for both stakeholders.
Business owners wield the scepter on how to run a business. They are granted full freedom to make critical decisions in running a company. This involves how they manage their employees, the policies they establish, strategies to grow their businesses and to allocate resources.
An entrepreneur’s freedom depends mainly on their company goals and objectives. These aspirations drive business owners into action, and they must work to serve those goals. That’s why every major decision requires planning, consideration and a solid commitment to keeping the company’s best interests at heart.
For example, the things you allow in the workplace will eventually become the culture your employees live by. If three-hour lunch breaks become the norm, you must prepare to endure the consequences of that decision. Conversely, when you use your freedom to micro-manage your employees, expect adverse outcomes from that action.
As entrepreneurs, using freedom will create a ripple effect that impacts your Realm of Association and, ultimately, your business. That’s where being responsible comes in.
Without proper guidance, business owners turn to their sense of responsibility to manage their decision-making. On a whim, business leaders can drive their company to the ground. That’s why companies that go public have board members to keep them in check.
It is important to remember that the company’s future, including your employees, rests on your decisions. Business owners must take full responsibility for any failures or setbacks that occur along the way. Freedom without responsibility can lead to chaos and disarray, while responsible freedom allows teams to achieve their full potential.
Exercising freedom is an essential aspect of success in business ownership. But what steers entrepreneurs to use their freedom for the company’s good is their sense of responsibility. As such, striking a perfect balance with this duality is essential.
Like business owners, employees face the duality of freedom and responsibility at the workplace.
First and foremost, getting hired and being a part of a team already entails having responsibilities. You are responsible for diligently fulfilling your duties and meeting, if not exceeding, the company’s expectations.
Being an employee means becoming a part of a more extensive interconnected, interdependent network. In other words, employees work more than just to be compensated. Instead, the work they render will impact other departments, which will then affect the company’s overall performance.
While companies hold responsibility in high regard, they also provide flexibility for employees to showcase their talents and abilities. Freedom enables employees to utilize their skills and knowledge, be creative, and contribute in meaningful ways. However, placing employees under a microscope and nitpicking their every movement only deters their performance.
A successful selling formula for one rep may not work well with others. For instance, every salesperson is unique, equipped with distinctive selling styles and demeanor. In this context, strategic legalism or excessive adherence to a system will yield different results for some. It can even feel off-putting to some, throwing employees off their game.
Freedom gives people room to approach their work on creative terms. Of course, the company’s goals and objectives must guide its action toward achievement.
Furthermore, we have all heard of that famous proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
No matter their commitment to work, employees need an exhaust to let out steam. This is possible because of freedom. Focusing entirely on work for eight hours a day, seven days a week, is physically and emotionally unhealthy.
Freedom balances out the pressures of responsibility. It requires employees to take ownership of their actions while expressing themselves creatively and freely. In the same way, responsibility manages an employee’s over-indulgence in freedom. Striking a perfect balance between these concepts is essential in any workplace setting.
For many employees, having a sense of freedom at work is crucial for motivation and productivity. They value their ability to make decisions and solve problems independently. It gives them a sense of agency and satisfaction in their work and motivates them to perform their best.
If you want a company culture that works, establishing a culture that respects freedom and responsibility is key.
At Wizard of Sales®, we care about the longevity and competence of your company in today’s business landscape. A balanced culture protects your team and pushes them to function well in service of your goals.
And as we have helped other residential home service companies achieve that, we can help you attain the same. If you’re interested, we invite you on a free call to discuss this.
What’s more Important? Freedom or responsibility?
“Okay, so freedom and responsibility is a duality in the workplace. Employers and employees are faced with the choice between these two concepts.“
However, having that knowledge now begs the question: which is more important between the two?
There’s no direct answer to satisfy this inquiry. Freedom and responsibility both have their edges and pitfalls. The good thing is that you don’t have to choose between them. As a duality, business leaders can balance the freedom and responsibility they allow inside the company.
Understanding the pros and cons of these two concepts can allow you to choose which ones to prioritize. Otherwise, you may allow too much freedom that breeds complacency and kills your company from the inside. Or, you could be too hung up on responsibility that employees feel burnt out.
Here are the pros of freedom:
- Employees feel more in control of their work and professional life
- Freedom gives your team allowance to pursue their interests and passion
- Employee autonomy can also boost creativity, productivity and innovation
- Freedom allows your team to breathe, preventing stress and burnout
- They take pride in their output and results
- Freedom increases employee engagement and reduces turnover rates
Cons of freedom:
- Mishandled freedom can cause chaos and confusion in the workplace
- Ineffective autonomy may lead to workplace complacency
- Employees could exploit their freedom, leading to corruption
- Not all employees thrive when given autonomy and independence
Freedom is generally a good thing. After all, people would rather live in a democratic society having equal rights than under authoritarian rule. However, mismanaged freedom does more harm than good, which can be detrimental to a company. That’s where responsibility comes in, and we’ll look at the pros and cons of responsibility below.
Pros of responsibility:
- Responsibility urges employees to be accountable for their work
- Your team feels more encouraged to pursue company goals
- It promotes discipline, focus and motivation among workers
- Responsibility trains employees to operate as a cohesive team
- Everyone becomes devoted to accomplishing a company’s vision, mission and goals
- Responsibility is the cornerstone of effectiveness and efficiency
Cons of responsibility:
- Lack of freedom can lead to burnout and stress when employees feel overwhelmed
- Responsibility can be restrictive, preventing employees from exploring new ideas or pursuing their own interests
- Extreme focus on responsibility can lead to unproductive activities like micro-management
- Employees may feel less engaged or motivated if they don’t have a sense of ownership in their activities
In the workplace, freedom and responsibility coexist. While freedom is typically associated with autonomy and choice, responsibility is often associated with obligation and duty.
A culture that fosters 100 percent freedom is equally unwise as having complete responsibility with no autonomy. Both aspects are equally important, allowing individuals to thrive and contribute fully to the organization’s success. Achieving harmony between these two concepts is essential for fostering a productive and flourishing work environment.
Remember the Law of Duality
The law of duality tells us that everything in this world exists in a continuum of complementary opposites. As Beverly Blanchard puts it:
“There may be two sides to the coin, but there is only one coin.”
Duality is the coexistence of two opposing natures at varying degrees. Freedom and responsibility are not opposing ideas but paired opposites— called a duality. They are not separate concepts but two extreme ends of the same thing.
Duality is not a choice between one or the other.
When dealing with paired opposites, the more you have of one, the less you have of the other. Similarly, business leaders can control the level of freedom or responsibility that they allow in the workplace.
Now, what do freedom and responsibility look like in action? Let’s explore that below.
How Do Freedom and Responsibility Work Side by Side?
Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin in the workplace. An effective business leader leverages both ends to drive the company to success.
Let’s explore two concrete examples to understand how freedom and responsibility function in the workplace. First, let’s look at the business owner’s side.
Entrepreneurs need the courage to make tough calls to grow and maintain a successful business. For instance, imagine an entrepreneur choosing between pursuing a high-risk, high-reward opportunity or playing it safe and choosing security.
While a difficult choice, employers have all the freedom to choose whichever they think is best. However, responsibility sets in once they consider what they may sacrifice should their decision goes south. These considerations might be the company’s financial runway to remain operational or the risk of possibly downsizing the team.
The owner must carefully weigh the risks and benefits of each decision. This ensures that the company remains profitable and competitive in the marketplace. One wrong decision could make or break the company.
Now, let’s look at freedom and responsibility from a salesperson’s perspective.
We all know there’s not a single rubber stamp for selling. Every salesperson and industry has a unique approach on how to transform prospects into full-fledged buyers. As such, salespeople also need the freedom to work independently, allowing them to take the initiative and act autonomously.
But freedom comes at a price. Salespeople must perform this while still maintaining focus on achieving their goals. They must meet performance metrics, deliver timely results, and complete targets within the allotted budget. Their creative autonomy is paired with accountability to achieve results in this role.
Conversely, tightening up the shackles of responsibility too much will only stifle creativity and innovation. For example, giving salespeople a selling blueprint they must strictly follow limits their room to maneuver sales calls. Restricting a salesperson’s freedom may lower their motivation to perform their best during negotiations.
Ultimately, freedom and responsibility are essential elements of any successful workplace. Understanding how these concepts work together helps you create more productive and engaged teams that drive growth for your business.
Freedom and responsibility are vital elements of a strong company culture. This is a company’s shared values, attributes, characteristics and leadership styles.
Good leadership effectively employs freedom and responsibility for the company’s advantage and employees’ well-being.
A careful and honest assessment of your leadership can help determine which of the two you should emphasize more. Furthermore, in-depth observation of your constituents will help you find your team’s appropriate leadership style.
At Wizard of Sales®, striking the perfect balance between freedom and responsibility is crucial. That’s why we help residential home service businesses achieve this equilibrium in their companies. If you need guidance with yours, we’d like to invite you on a free call to discuss how we can help you.