What is Power and Authority?

The term “power” is often considered as synonymous to authority. Really speaking, there is a difference between the two terms. Power refers to the ability or capacity to influence the behavior or attitudes of other individuals. A manager’s power may be considered as his ability to cause subordinates to do what the manager wished them to do. Power is a broader concept than authority. Authority is derived from position whereas power may be derived from many sources like technical competence, seniority etc. a manager’s power may be measured in terms of his ability to –

  1. Give rewards,
  2. Punish individuals,
  3. Withdraw rewards, etc.

Thus, reward, coercion, dominating personality, expertise, etc. are the main sources of power. Authority may be described as an institutionalized power since it is formally bestowed by the organization.

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