Difference Between Authority and Power

The conceptual difference between authority and power is very important when it comes to understanding the different attributions, not only at the business level, but also at the level of public institutions.

The relevance of an authority is determined by the power it has, through the powers that the position gives it to manage and make decisions around a group, an institution, a territory or the unit under its charge.

The authority of the president of a country is usually delivered through an administrative act of the executive power, which gives him the power to direct the implementation of public policies in some areas of a country; economic, social, health, justice, housing, etc.

Likewise, power is distributed in all institutions, so the authorities, on occasions, must take measures in a coordinated manner, because each one has some attribution that intervenes in a decision.

When should a decision be made in a coordinated manner by the different attributions involved?

In a public institution, such as a country, in matters of justice it is important that the Minister of Justice (representing the president), the police, for executing security action measures, and the judiciary , represented by judges, meet, who provide information regarding the existing penalties for the different crimes. And thus develop an action plan that guarantees the safety of citizens.

And in a company?

The general management constantly has to meet with the authorities of their sub-management; Commercial manager, finance, operations, human resources, and others.

To implement any global strategy, such as improving the company's position in the market .

The commercial manager, through his power, will design a marketing and sales strategy to better attract new customers and retain existing ones. But his power will not be able to give instructions to the operations personnel, since he does not have the powers to do so.

The human resources manager will develop an incentive plan for meeting goals for all employees, but only in that area. He could not make business decisions, nor investment in assets.

The finance manager will propose how to invest company resources to leverage better results. These investments can be in assets , human resources or marketing . However, their mission is to use the organization's resources efficiently, not to give guidelines to the employees of other units, because there are area managers for that.

In short, power is the attributions of a position materialized in the figure of authority.

People who achieve excellent results with power exercise authority in a positive way, adding business leadership skills to their management.