When it comes to authority, there are two types. You have positional authority. An example here would be your boss or a police officer. Their position in society gives them a sense of authority. Some people take this power too seriously. There are plenty of bosses who believe they can tell their subordinates to do anything they say without ever getting to know the subordinate as a person. Police officers get negative press because there are some out there who believe their badge is the only thing they need to show for people to comply with their demands.
The bad thing about this type of authority is that it ends at the position. Outside of the scenario where the authority is present, the person means absolutely nothing to the other. There is no sense of loyalty towards the person when the roles are diminished. If the subordinate moves to a department, he/she never has to listen to his/her ex-boss even if the boss really needs something. That repertoire outside of the relationship was never set.
Position Authority is Based on Fear
If you are using your leadership only from your position, you may be using a fear-based authority. People who exercise position authority tend to forget the deeper, more personal aspect of being a leader. This leads to a more political environment where people are more focused on position and power. The decisions made in this environment are fear-based due to not wanting to lose this position.
On the other side, there are people who feel like they don’t have authority because they are not in a position of authority. I was one of those people. Because I didn’t have a formal title, I didn’t think I could make moves like a leader. I didn’t feel like I could make a real difference coming from an entry-level position, but that just wasn’t true. You can gain the same influence by using your personal authority.
What is Personal Authority
In contrast to positional authority, the personal authority has a deeper feel and could be more effective in the long run. If you want a definition, personal authority is the trust to speak experience and knowledge into someone else’s life. Unlike positional authority, personal authority builds trust, loyalty, and deeper connections with those that you have influence over. This knowledge helps me to earn respect regardless of rank within society.
In order to be more personal, you have to genuinely care about the people you seek to serve. You must also have genuine expertise in the area you intend to influence. If you want to be a personal authority at work, you have to make sure that you care about the people around you and have knowledge of what you speak when you do speak. This type of leadership deeply impacts the people around you because you care for their well-being, not your status. You’ll begin to be the person people look to for advice regardless of your position.