Authority and power: often misunderstood; often abused; sometimes used effectively
I suggest the following about authority and power :
- Managers have authority by virtue of institutional/constitutional position, and power by virtue of their exercise of authority
- Authority is the ability and the institutional right to authorize (to say YES)
- With or without authority, you can always say NO (and gum it up; staffers do this all the time)
- Power comes from the fear/threat/utility of the application of (authorized) resources
- Really effective power comes from the ability to communicate, where communication means to be able to instruct/educate/persuade/motivate.
- However, it's also true that a leader (less so a manager) without authority can still have power -- perhaps very effective power -- by virtue of their communication skill.
Of course, authority can segue into authoritarian.
We've posted on that before: