Discuss power and authority. What are different kinds of power? Give examples. What is the purpose of delegation and why is it used?

While anyone can be granted authority over a group of individuals, only certain individuals can exert themselves and utilize their natural power to influence others around him/her. Once a person is given the right to “make decisions, give orders, and allocate resources,” he/she has been granted authority over others. However, in order for a person to truly influence those around them, he/she must exude a sense of confidence in such a way that people find themselves taking a greater respect towards him/her.


In my place of business there are three assistant managers, all of whom are granted equal authority over the store during their shift. They are all granted the same responsibilities for the particular shift that they each happen to be working, but there is clearly a difference when it comes to employee management. One of the three managers, Ruth, has a greater control over the employees than the other two assistant managers do during their shifts. Ruth is a genuinely nice person, who people flock towards when they have a problem, whether it is personal or professional. However, she knows when it’s time to socialize and when it’s time to work, and what she says goes. Her mentality about her job and the employees that she supervises is one based on a balance of power, where the employees respect her enough as a manager to do what they are told, but also feel comfortable enough around her where they can let their guard down. This is the perfect example where several individuals have been given the same type of authority over a group of people, but the levels of power differ enough to produce different results.

When referring to power, it can be characterized into one of these five categories
:i. Legitimate Power: power that an individual acquires as a sense of entitlement to go along with his/her professional status, sometimes referred to as perceived power.

ii. Reward Power: power that stems from the ability to make promises or grant rewards, such as vacation time, salary raises, promotions…

iii. Coercive Power: power based on the fear of negative consequences, employees may simply do what they are told because they are scared of what may happen if they do not comply, such as: demotion, withheld raises…

iv. Referent Power: power based on an individual’s charm and personality, often used to motivate and captivate employees.

v. Expert Power: power acquired from an individual’s superior knowledge, abilities, skills, and/or experiences surrounding a particular task or item.

In order for our nation to run properly, a series of checks and balances have been designed to keep the balance of power away from any one individual. Imagine if this was never put into place, but rather the President was in charge of making every decision for every part of the United States. First of all, the man would have had a heart attack or a nervous breakdown by now! Secondly, that type of task is extremely too daunting for any one individual to fathom, let alone attempt. Thus, the best way in which to manage such a task is through the delegation of power down the ranks to the individuals states, counties, towns, etc. Instead of having one person managing the entire country all at once, individuals have been elected into office to oversee some of the smaller areas of our nation.

The same could be said of any corporation worldwide. As Paul Maguire, senior partner of a management consulting firm has put it: ‘When you fail to delegate, the monkey on your back gets fatter and fatter until it squashes you.” The vivid picture that this paints in the mind truly reinforces the fact that no one individual can continually and effectively watch over an entire organization by their lonesome. As any place grows, there is a long list of demands placed on a manager, which is why he/she must learn to “delegate authority to free themselves from some management areas to be able to focus better on more critical concerns.” Perhaps one of the most important parts about being a manager is the ability to trust one’s subordinates and delegate authority in the hopes of maintaining one’s own sanity!

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