Difference Between Authority and Power

Difference Between Authority and Power

3 mins readComment
Chanchal
Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content
Updated on Mar 27, 2024 19:06 IST

In management, authority is the formal and legitimate right granted to a manager to make decisions, command resources, and direct subordinates within the organizational structure. On the other hand, power extends beyond formal positions, encompassing the capacity of an individual to influence, persuade, and motivate others based on personal attributes, expertise, or relationships, irrespective of their official authority.

Difference between Authority and Power

At the marketing firm, Mr. A is empowered by the department's position as he sets campaign strategies and manages budgets. Mr. X holds another position at the same firm, but the title and power are not vested in management. Yet, he is a powerful member of the team by forming opinions and creating innovative ideas through experience and influence. And that's a bright example of a clear difference between Mr. A and Mr. X: while Mr. A's authority is derived from his official rights and duties to make decisions, the power of Mr. X is way more in the sense of inspiring and influencing, even without having an official position. Authority in management, on the other hand, means structured decision-making and accountability, while power means the ability to influence and effect change and innovation critical in effective leadership and the realization of organizational success.

Table of Content

Comparative Table: Authority and Power

Aspect

Authority

Power

Source

Derived from a formal position or set of rules within an organization.

Stems from expertise, control over resources, personal influence, or formal authority.

Legitimacy

Generally accepted as legitimate and backed by the organization's structure and policies.

May not always be seen as legitimate, dependent on the individual's influence and ability to persuade others.

Scope

Has a defined scope and is specific to the responsibilities of a particular role within the organization.

Can extend beyond formal roles, more fluid, depending on the individual's ability to influence others.

Control

Associated with control over decision-making and organizational resources based on formal position.

More about the ability to influence outcomes and people's behavior, regardless of formal control or position.

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Authority in management refers to the power given to individuals to make decisions, give orders, and enforce obedience. It is the right to direct others and take action. Authority is often linked to a management position within an organization and is essential for ensuring that tasks are carried out effectively and efficiently. Effective management involves the responsible use of authority to achieve organizational goals while respecting the needs and contributions of all team members.

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Example of Authority

Imagine a scenario where a project manager can allocate tasks and resources to team members. When a new project comes in, the project manager assesses the skills and availability of each team member and assigns tasks accordingly. Throughout the project, the manager has the authority to make decisions, resolve conflicts, and provide guidance to ensure that the project is completed successfully and on time. This demonstrates how authority in management empowers individuals to drive the team towards achieving its objectives.

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What is Power?

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Example of Power

Imagine a scenario where a manager at a software development company holds the power to allocate resources for different projects. With this authority, the manager can influence the direction and success of various teams within the organization. By strategically assigning resources based on project requirements and team capabilities, the manager can effectively steer the company towards achieving its overarching business objectives. This demonstrates how power in management can significantly impact the outcomes and performance of a company's teams and projects.

Difference Between Authority and Power

Source: Authority is derived from a formal position within an organization, while power comes from personal influence or expertise.

Legitimacy: Authority is recognized as legitimate within an organizational structure, whereas power's legitimacy can vary based on perception.

Scope: Authority has a defined scope tied to specific roles, whereas power can be more fluid and extend beyond formal job descriptions.

Control: Authority involves control over resources and decisions due to position, while power is about influencing behavior and outcomes.

Basis: Authority is based on official rules and policies, power is often based on personal attributes or relationships.

Durability: Authority remains as long as the formal position is held; power can persist or change regardless of position changes.

About the Author
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Chanchal Aggarwal
Senior Executive Content

Chanchal is a creative and enthusiastic content creator who enjoys writing research-driven, audience-specific and engaging content. Her curiosity for learning and exploring makes her a suitable writer for a variety ... Read Full Bio