Saturday, August 22, 2009

Authority (2) - Source

Authority has two sources:

  1. Imposed authority
  2. Voluntary authority
Imposed authority is enforced from above. The soldier obeyed the centurion, because he knew that he would be punished if he disobeyed. The centurion had the coercive power of the Roman Empire behind him. Imposed authority exists when a person with authority has the power to enforce their will. That power may be legal power, as in the case of the centurion. It may be the power of a gun, or simply be bigger fists.

Voluntary authority comes through submission from below, as people freely submit to it. When we take up employment, we submit to the authority of our employer in return for a wage or salary. This is a free exchange. The employer gains voluntary authority in return for income. When we submit a legal issue to a judge to get a wise decision and the judge gains voluntary authority. A leader emerges when people freely agree to follow.

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