Why Sharing Authority Matters in Group Practice

By Maureen Werrbach, LCPC on October 23, 2023

When we share authority, we're making active changes to include other people at the table of our group practice and lifting their voices when it comes to making decisions. However, sharing authority goes beyond just having people in leadership positions. So, how do you efficiently refine sharing authority at your group practice, and how does it make a difference?

For many group practice owners, the first step toward sharing authority is bringing someone into a leadership position, whether that's having a clinical director or a supervisor. Keep in mind though that while hiring or promoting someone into a leadership position is a great first step, bringing someone into leadership and actually sharing power are two very different things. Two books that have helped me with my mentality around sharing authority are Radical Candor Series (Kim Scott) and Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself (Mike Michalowicz, 2018).

In Clockwork, Michalowicz talks about the difference between delegating and being the decider. Most of us think that we're delegating things when we're really still the decider. We still own the outcome of whatever it is that we think we've delegated to someone else, which just means that the work is still on your plate, just in a different form. True delegation is not only giving tasks away to someone but giving the decision making and ownership of the outcome to that person as well.

In my experience, a lot of practice owners get anxious about sharing authority or control because they think it takes away their ability to be the final decision maker. I’m here to reassure you that’s not how sharing authority has to work! At the end of the day, you can still make final decisions as the business owner. Sharing authority just means that you’re not the only one in charge of coming up with ideas, completing tasks, and making decisions. As the head of the business, you can share authority in whatever way feels comfortable to you.

Sharing authority is also a great way to help build culture at your group practice. When I focused on sharing authority at my practice, it created a space where my team felt more invested in the success of my group practice. When team members feel like they are an integral part of your business and that they have a voice, you’re going to see the culture of your practice becoming more positive. Showing your staff that you trust them to share their concerns and that their voice is heard lets them know that they’re not just a body who is performing to make income for the business.  

Authority sharing is scalable as you grow. The larger your group practice is, the more important it is to actually be sharing decision making, power and authority. It’s just not possible after you grow to a certain point to do it all. If you’re the sole decision maker in your business, nothing will be able to get done without your direct input. If you work on sharing authority and delegating to your team, it will be easier to take a step back when you no longer have the capacity to deal with specific things.

One of the biggest concerns that employees have is that there isn't an ability for them to move upward in their workplace. It's one of the main reasons that staff members leave to either start their own practice or work in another group with more growth opportunities. Offering a space where your team members can move into leadership or obtain more shared authority can go a long way toward making people want to stay with you, because they feel invested and valued.

When I think about where my business is now, it’s not solely due to my ideas. A lot of what my business is now is the culmination of thoughts and collaborations that I've had with my leadership team. My staff brings ideas to the table that I might not have thought of myself. Building a practice to share authority can help you see the bigger picture and also leads to more creative ideas. You’re working as a team with different strengths and abilities, so you’ll have more opportunities to grow your practice in a way that’s in line with your vision and mission.  

A few ways to share authority in group practice could include:

  1. surveying staff about adding a new benefit, position, or service
  2. to talk about business decisions you’re considering and ask for their feedback
  3. having an open-door policy where your team feels safe to come to you with ideas

Sharing authority in group practice can definitely have a learning curve, because it’s tricky to go from doing everything yourself to relying on others. However, making a plan for how you’ll expand your practice usually requires some sort of shared authority at some point, so it can be helpful to have some ideas for how you’ll implement that in your own practice.

* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.


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