AUTHORITY— MEANING, TYPES AND RELATIONSHIPS

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Authority is the right of the managers to give orders to subordinates and get obedience from them.

It is the right of a manager to achieve the objectives of the organization. 

It is the manager's power or right to get things done through the people.  

It can also refer to the legal right of a manager to command, order, instruct and compel subordinates to perform specific tasks.

Henry Fayol, who gave 14 principles of management, defined authority as 'the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience".

Without authority, a manager will be unable to accomplish his or her job effectively. 

It is authority that enables a managers regulate the behavior of subordinates in a legitimate manner.

A manager gets his authority from his post and the degree of authority is maximum at the top level and decreases as we move down the organisational hierarchy. 

Managers at the top level of management have more authority than other levels of management.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand the difference between authority and power.

Power is the ability of a person or group to influence the beliefs, actions and behaviours of other people

It is the ability to bring about a change in the behaviour or attitudes of other individuals.

Difference Between Authority And Power

1. Authority refers to a manager's ability to make decisions, whereas power refers to a person's ability to influence others.

2. Authority is closely associated with positions because managers only have authority when they hold positions.

Power, on the other hand, resides with the person who uses it.

3. Authority is always legitimate whereas power is not always legitimate

4. In an organization, authority flows downwards, whereas power can flow in any direction.

5. Authority relationships can be represented in an organizational chart whereas power relationships cannot be represented in an organizational chart

Types Of Authority in management

1. Line authority: This authority is the ultimate authority in an organization to decide, act, approve, command and direct activities of the organisation. 

Line authority is the power to carry out the task and give orders relating to the objectives of the organization

It is the main authority of the organization and often reflect the superior-subordinate relationships in the organisation.

The line of authority is represented by the standard chain of command, which starts with the board of directors and extends down through the various levels in the organizational hierarchy. 

Line authority makes decisions that are necessary for the operation of the organisation.

Line authority usually acts as a means of control and provides a point reference for the approval or rejection of proposals or actions.

Stated differently, line authority control major activity in the organisation and make decisions in the organization.

It should be noted that line organizations only have line authority.

2. Staff authority: This refers to an  individual right to provide advice and service to the line authority 

Generally, Staff authority is concerned with assisting and advising the line authorities.

Staff authorities are usually people with expertise and knowledge who can assist the main authority (line authority)

3. Functional authority: The holder of this authority has the authority to command matters about the assigned functions.

It is a person's authority to direct the activity of his department.

It is the right given to a manager who has expertise in a particular area of an organization to give orders relating to that particular functional area of the organization.

Functional authority is associated with functional organisation.

Functional authority is associated with organisational with the central authority in branches.

4. Traditional authority: Here, the acceptance of authority is based on traditions, customs, values, and norms.

Traditional authority is made legitimate by the sanctity of the tradition.

5. Charismatic authority: Here, the acceptance of authority arises from loyalty to and confidence in the personal qualities of the authority holder.

A manager with charismatic authority usually has missions and visions that inspire others.

Charismatic authority is usually derived from the perceived extraordinary characteristics of an individual.

6. Rational-legal authority: Here, the acceptance of authority arises out of office or position of the person in authority as defined by the rules and regulations of the organisation.

In other words, rational-legal authority is the authority given to an individual based on the formal rules and regulations laid down by the organisation.

Legal-rational authority is empowered by a formalistic belief

in the content of the law (legal) or natural law (rationality)

Relationship between authority, accountability and responsibility

Authority is the power to give orders and exert obedience. It is the power of a manager to take decisions and give orders to achieve organisational objectives.

Authority can be delegated in the organisation but it can not be shared

Responsibility, on the other hand, refers to a subordinate's obligation to do the duty that has been allocated to him.

Responsibility ensures that subordinates perform tasks assigned to them by the manager, to the best of their abilities

While authority flows downward, from top-level management to low-level management, responsibility flow upward, from low management to top-level management.

Although responsibility can be shared in an organization, it cannot be delegated in the organization.

When a superior delegates tasks, for example, he does not delegate responsibility. However, the responsibility for the delegated task is shared between him and his subordinate.

Related to responsibility is accountability, which means being answerable to the result of a particular task.

McFarland defined accountability as the obligation of an individual to report formally to his superior about the work he has done to discharge the responsibility

Accountability means accepting responsibility and being personally answerable for the result of a particular task.

Accountability is the result of responsibility and responsibility usually result from authority.

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While it is possible to delegate authority, accountability cannot be delegated.

Furthermore, accountability cannot be shared because two persons cannot be held answerable for a work that has been assigned to a single individual; otherwise, there will be confusion and chaos in the organization.

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