What Is the Difference Between Power and Authority?

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Authority refers to the duties and responsibilities that are assigned to a person in a position of control, while power is the actual physical and direct control of someone over another person or group.

Usually, people who are in a position of power have some degree of authority. An example of a person in a position of authority is the head or director of a company. The individual in charge of the company can make changes within the organization without getting consent from others in the company. Another example of authority, and one that applies broadly to the greater society, is the influence that police officers have in controlling the actions of others. Officers are responsible for punishing the actions of people considered to be improper and illegal. Therefore, police officers have the capability to exercise their power by imposing fines and making arrests.

Authority While authority gives an individual the legal capacity to regulate behavior, power is a bit more arbitrary. Power can be the result of someone gaining influence or control over others by reasons that extend beyond law, such as knowledge. People in positions of power are often more knowledgeable than others around them, which in turn makes them considered to be intellectually superior.

People in the position of power are more capable of influencing the behavior of others. An example of a person in position of power is the President of the United States. The president has the power to influence the actions of people based on their own actions and beliefs. Presidents, for instance, may persuade people to vote in favor of issues like clean water, increasing military spending, healthcare and other important issues. Power can exist in various degrees, and it can be considered a good or bad form of control. Individuals in a position of power have the capacity to exert conscious and subconscious control over a group of people, and they may or may not be aware of the extent to which they have that power.

Power Power is often linked to authority because people in a position of authority, such as the head of a company, also have more control and persuasive power over their employees than other people. Authoritative figures within a company are given their control through the duties and responsibilities assigned to them. These duties may include deciding to merge with another company, releasing a new product or increasing spending in a certain area. Company leaders may or may not have legal control over their constituents.

In contrast, others in a position of authority, such as police officers, have legal responsibilities and control over the groups of people who they control. Power and authority may be linked with manipulation, which is the conscious effort of an individual to get others to act in a specific manner based on his or her requests and direction. A component of power is personality, which means that a person who ends up in a position of control and influence is likely to have a personality that seeks dominance and control over the lives of others. Authority, in contrast, is delegated as a right by a governing power.