Guide Philosophy of Leadership: The Power of Authority

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It is a formal right, given to the high officials. Source Knowledge and expertise. Authority follows the hierarchy. By the term power, we mean the personal capacity of an individual to influence others to do or not to do an act. It is independent and informal in nature derived from charisma and status. It is an acquired ability that comes from knowledge and expertise.

Power is not hierarchical, i. In this way, it is not confined to any boundaries. Moreover, the element of politics is usually attached to it. Authority is legal and formal right to a person, who can take decisions, give orders and commands to others to perform a particular task. It is hierarchical in nature, it flows downward, i. In general, authority is exercised to get things done through others. It is attached to the position, i. Moreover, it is restricted to the organisation only.


After reviewing the above points, it is quite clear that power and authority are two different things, where power has nothing to do with level or management or position. On the other hand, authority completely depends on these two, i. In addition to this, the authority relationships, i.

Conversely, the power relationship is not shown in the organisation chart. Simple and easy way of defining the two into various point.

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  1. Background Five Forms of Power!
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  3. Key Differences Between Power and Authority.
  4. Legitimate power comes from an elected, selected, or appointed position of authority and may be underpinned by social norms. Occasionally, those possessing legitimate power fail to recognize they have it, and may begin to notice others going around them to accomplish their goals. Legitimate power originates from a target of influence accepting the power of the influencing agent whereas behavioral change or compliance occurs based on target's obligation. The legitimate position power is based on the social norm which requires people to be obedient to those who hold superior positions in a formal or informal social structure.

    Some pitfalls can arise when too heavy reliance is placed on legitimate power; these include: a unexpected exigencies call for non-legitimized individuals to act in the absence of a legitimate authority — such as a citizen's arrest in the absence of a police official; and b military legitimacy [7]. The legitimate power of reciprocity is based on the social norm of reciprocity.

    The legitimate power of equity is based on the social norm of equity or compensatory damages [8] The social norm of equity makes people feel compelled to compensate someone who has suffered or worked hard. The legitimate power of dependence is based on the social norm of social responsibility. People traditionally obey the person with this power solely based on their role, position or title rather than the person specifically as a leader. Therefore, this type of power can easily be lost and the leader does not have his position or title anymore.

    As Referent power emphasizes similarity, respect for an agent of influence's superiority may be undermined by a target of influence. Referent power in a positive form utilizes the shared personal connection or shared belief between the influencing agent and target with the intention of positively correlated actions of the target. Referent power in a negative form produces actions in opposition to the intent of the influencing agent, this is the result from the agent's creation of cognitive dissonance between the referent influencing agent and the target's perception of that influence.


    Examples of referent power include: a each of the last seven White House press secretaries have been paid handsomely for their memoirs relating to their presence at the seat of government; b Mrs. Hillary Clinton gained political capital by her marriage to the President; c Reverend Pat Robertson lost a bid for the Republican Party's nomination for President due, in significant part, to his religious affiliation; and 4 national firefighters have received vocational acclaim due to the association with the heroic NYC firefighters. Some pitfalls can occur related to referent assumptions; these include: a guilt or glory by association where little or no true tie is established; b associative traits tend to linger long after real association ends; c some individuals tend to pay dearly for associates' misdeeds or terrible reputations.

    It depends on respecting, liking, and holding another individual in high esteem. It usually develops over a long period of time. The power of holding the ability to administer to another a sense of personal acceptance or personal approval. The responsibility involved is heavy and the power easily lost, but when combined with other forms of power it can be very useful.

    Referent power is commonly seen in political and military figures, although celebrities often have this as well. Expert power is based on what one knows, experience, and special skills or talents. The effectiveness and impacts of the Expert power base may be negative or positive. As a consequence of the expert power or knowledge, a leader is able to convince their subordinates to trust them.

    The expertise does not have to be genuine — it is the perception of expertise that provides the power base. When individuals perceive or assume that a person possesses superior skills or abilities, they award power to that person.

    Expert power in a positive form influences the target to act accordingly as instructed by the expert, based on the assumption of the expert's correct knowledge. Expert power in a negative form can result from a person acting in opposition to the experts instructions if the target feels that the expert has personal gain motives. Some pitfalls can emerge when too heavy a reliance is made on expertise; these include: a sometimes inferences are made suggesting expertise is wider in scope than it actually is; for example, an expert in antique vases may have little expertise in antique lamps; b one's expertise is not everlasting; for example, a physician who fails to keep up with medical technology and advances may lose expertise; and c expertise does not necessarily carry with it common sense or ethical judgement.

    French and Raven's original five powers brought about change after many years, by which Raven added a sixth base of power. Informational is the ability of an agent of influence to bring about change through the resource of information. The ability for altered behavior initiated through information rather than a specific change agent is called socially independent change.

    The findings indicate that a channel member's control over another's strategy increases with its informational power source. If one gives information away, then the power is given away, which differs from other forms of power because it's grounded in what you know about the content of a specific situation. Other forms of power are independent of the content. Information power comes as a result of possessing knowledge that others need or want. There may be a cost-benefit analysis by an agent of influence to determine if Information Power or influence is the best strategy.

    Information power extends to the ability to get information not presently held such as a case with a librarian or data base manager. Not all information is readily available; some information is closely controlled by few people. Examples of information that is sensitive or limits accessibility: a national security data; b personnel information for government or business; c corporate trade secrets; d juvenile court records; e many privately settled lawsuit documents; f Swiss bank account owners; and g private phone conversations.

    Of course, legally obtained phone tap warrants, spying, eavesdropping, group and group member leaks can allow others not intended to be privy to information. Information can, and often is, used as a weapon as in a divorce, a child custody case, business dissolution, or in civil suits discoveries.

    Five Forms of Power (French & Raven)

    Information has been used by some to extort action, utterance, agreement, or settlement by others. Information power is a form of personal or collective power that is based on controlling information needed by others in order to reach an important goal. Our society is now reliant on information power as knowledge for influence, decision making, credibility, and control. Timely and relevant information delivered on demand can be the most influential way to acquire power.

    Information may be readily available through public records, research, and but information is sometimes assumed privileged or confidential. The target of influence accepts,comprehends and internalizes the change independently, without have to go back to the influencing agent. Informational power is based on the potential to utilize information. Providing rational arguments, using information to persuade others, using facts and manipulating information can create a power base.

    How information is used — sharing it with others, limiting it to key people, keeping it secret from key people, organizing it, increasing it, or even falsifying it — can create a shift in power within a group. Information presented by the influencing agent directly to the target of change.