Power Vs. Authority

It appears that far too many accept the idea that power and authority are synonymous. It seems to be an underlying assumption that those who possess authority also possess power, or that mortal authority grants power. From my perspective these assumptions are faulty.

Having the physical and mental power to drive a car does not grant authority from the state to do so. Having authority to step to the plate during a Major League baseball game does not guarantee the batter will have the power to hit a home run. You may have the power to go into your neighbor’s home and do as you please but without proper authority, your display of power may make you a criminal.

Believing authority grants power can also bring disappointment when those in authority are unable to work the miracles we assumed their roles implied. We may be even more disappointed when we find ourselves in positions of authority. A new title may grant us expanded access but it does not necessarily endow us with additional skill or wisdom. In the absence of active power, authority is all but void.

On the other hand, power alone is not enough to govern anything. Those who use their power to demand authority, that is not rightfully theirs, or those who attempt to take it by force eventually fall. Power is slippery in the hands of those who want it most.

Those who seek power unlawfully often put themselves on a course to gain a little authority and not long after they begin to drift (or sprint) off course. Sometimes the drift is subtle and sometimes it’s surprisingly bold. In the end, if they haven’t made adjustments, they lose the power and authority they prized most not only at great personal expense but sadly, and more importantly, at the expense of others.

Most simply, authority is a gift of trust and power is ability. How the two are obtained makes all the difference.
This entry was posted in abuse, assessment, authority, Behavior, change, choice, Leadership, power, social, temptation, trust, unity, work. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Power Vs. Authority

  1. Michael says:

    It’s very rare that both coincide.

  2. 行銷 says:

    Simply, one of the best article l have come across on this precious subject. I quite agree with your suppositions and will eagerly look forward to your forthcoming updates.

  3. Colene Skold says:

    Thanks for the post, I really learned a lot from it. Extremly quality content on this website. Always looking forward to new post.

  4. Pam says:

    Im lecturing about authority vs power, and your explanation is the best. Very clear, direct and simple to understand. Thank you. More post please.

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