Difference Between Authority and Power
The terms Authority and Power have different meanings in management.
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Authority is the right given to a manager to achieve the objectives of the organisation. It is a right to get the things done through others. It is a right to take decisions. It is a right to give orders to the subordinates and to get obedience from them. A manager cannot do his work without authority.
A manager gets his authority from his position or post. He gets his authority from the higher authorities. The lower and middle-level managers get their authority from the top-level managers. The top-level managers get their authority from the shareholders.
Authority always flows downwards. It is delegated from the top to the bottom.
According to Henri Fayol,
"Authority is the right to give orders and power to exact (get) obedience."
Power is a broader concept than authority. Power is the ability of a person or a group to influence the beliefs and actions of other people. It is the ability to influence events. Power can be personal power. A person gets his personal power from his personality or from his expert knowledge. Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Programmers, etc. get their power from their expertise and professional knowledge. Power can also be legitimate or official power. This power comes from a higher authority.
In management, authority differs from power in the following ways :-
Authority is the formal right given to a manager to make decisions or to command.
Power is the personal ability to influence others or events.
Authority flows downwards in the organisation. This is because it is delegated by the superiors to the subordinates.
Power can flow in any direction. Even subordinates have power over their superiors, if they can influence their behaviour. So power can flow upwards, downwards or horizontally.
3. Organisational Charts
Authority relationships (superior-subordinate relationships) can be shown in the organisation charts.
Power relationships cannot be shown in organisation charts.
4. Level of Management
Authority depends on the level of management. Higher the level of management, higher will be the authority and vice-versa.
Power does not depend on the level of management. Power can exist at any level of management. Even a lower-level manager or a worker can have power to influence the behaviour of a top-level manager.
Authority is always official in nature. So it is legitimate.
Power need not be official in nature. So it need not be legitimate.
6. Position and Person
Authority is given to a position or post. The manager gets the authority only when he holds that position.
Power resides (lives) in the person who uses it.