Difference Between Power vs Authority

Difference Between Power vs Authority

There is no gainsaying that many people still find it difficult to spot the difference between power and authority. Despite having some challenges telling which is which, they seem to grasp that these nouns are used to describe some privileges that leaders enjoy. On the other hand, many others use them interchangeably.

However, there are lots of dissimilarities between the two words. So, in this informative guide, you will learn what the terms mean, the contrasts, and finally, the conclusion. From the foregoing, you will likely find it interesting and informative every step of the way.

Definition of Power

Power is the personal ability of someone to get others to do their bidding. Well, the influence is a result of the person being able to stand out. There are instances where the influence can come from having in-depth knowledge of a subject or expertise. As a result, others tend to respect the person. In turn, the person controls the performance of others as well as shapes their actions and beliefs.

In addition to a person having such abilities, groups also can have it. However, it has absolutely nothing to do with the rank, position, or designation of an individual or group. More importantly, it does not depend on a level or hierarchy because it is much broader and more extensive. It is noteworthy that it is independent and informal in nature. Many experts say that it is an exercise and occurs in all directions.

Moving on, such people can influence the decisions of other people because they have some personal traits that have earned them respect. As you would expect, earning this virtue requires years of hard work, so it is difficult to lose. Before discussing the difference between authority and power, let us explain the former in detail.

Definition of Authority

Authority is someone’s right to give instructions to people to carry out in order to achieve a goal. Well, this has to do with the office the person currently occupies. In other words, this person loses such privileges the day he or she leaves the office.

For instance, the managing director of a company can give instructions to subordinates to carry out. However, he or she will no longer enjoy such privileges the day he or she ceases to be the managing director of the organization.

The new person will start to enjoy the privilege going forward. It is a privilege that snowballs with increasing hierarchy. As a result, it flows in a certain direction. So, it is exercised, allowing the head to get things accomplished with the support of other members.

Without this privilege, the person’s designation will not be respected. It is defined as a legal right because it is attached to an office or title. However, it takes a lot to get to that office where you can influence others’ decisions because such positions are highly exalted offices. Therefore, such people do not have to apply force to get things done.

Main Differences Between Power vs Authority

The table explains the concept of authority vs power in detail. You should study it carefully. 

Basis of ComparisonPowerAuthority  
MeaningSomeone’s natural ability to get others to do thingsThe legal right to get people to do something so as to actualize a goal
SourcesThe source is natural traits; it lies within the personThis comes from title or position
Likelihood of losing itIt is not easy to loseIt is easy to lose 
Use of force Force may be applied in some casesForce has no place here because authority comes with the office
 HierarchyIt has nothing to do with hierarchyIt increases as someone’s level rises
Formality An informal influenceA formal influence

Difference Between Power and Authority: Conclusion

To conclude this guide, it is important to summarize the key disparity in power vs authority. While the former is natural, the latter comes with a designation or title. From the foregoing, there is a clear-cut contrast between the two concepts.

However, there are instances where they overlap. A good example is that a well-respected business mogul can become the president of a country. In this case, this person enjoys both of them.