Differences Between Power, Leadership, Authority & Influence

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  • 0:05 Views of Different Management
  • 1:48 Comparing and…
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn

Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.

When we look at power, we can associate it to many different aspects of the business world. We can look at authority, leadership, influence and power on their own. In this lesson, we will discuss these four aspects and show you the differences between them, yet how they can coexist.

Views of Different Management

Let us take a look at a few types of management. Taking a moment to look at this will help us frame out the difference in power, leadership, authority and influence. This will give us a baseline to start from as we dive deeper into these four areas later in the lesson.

When we think of power, which is the ability to do something the specific way you want it done by any means necessary, one individual that comes to mind is Napoleon Bonaparte. He ruled his kingdom with an iron fist and had no problems going to war to defend it or to help it grow. His management was by power only, and if you argued with his perspective, you were not going to be around for very long.

We then can take a moment to look at leadership. A person that comes to mind is John Kennedy. President Kennedy challenged NASA to put a man on the moon and through leadership, convinced and motivated his team to make that happen. His accomplishments did not come by using power, but by using leadership and painting a vision for others to follow.

Now we have authority. Here, we do not need to isolate a great leader; we can look at just about any policeman or fireman and say they have authority. When a policeman tells you do to something, you usually comply, as he is in a position of authority. The truth is most managers are in a position of authority; what differs is just how they use it. That is because with authority, a person has the right to give you an order or direction.

Finally, we have influence, which really is focused on having an impact on someone's character, their development or even the way they think. Thus, for influence, we can look at a priest or an instructor, anyone that has an informal position but has the ability to direct or change the viewpoint or character of another.

Comparing and Contrasting These Elements

Now that we have an understanding of these different elements, it's important we look deeper into them and understand how they compare and contrast - and in some ways coexist with each other. Power is a fairly abstract concept. A person can be in a formal position to wield power (say, maybe a king, a president or someone like that) or they can have informal power (potentially, the secretary for the president of a large company). It has been said, 'If you cannot get past the secretary, you will never speak to the man or woman behind them.' Thus, power can be formal or informal.

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