Authority is Usually Given, Rarely Acquired


A young person looks at people with authority such as parents and teachers without questioning the source of their authority. Similarly when you first start work at a company you obey and respect your superiors without understanding that their authority is much more fragile than you might think. And quite some adults never realize the fact that once they become parents, teachers, police officers, or leaders themselves, the authority they command in their new capacity is rarely result of their actions alone, but mostly the result of perceptions and actions of people around them. For example, when mothers constantly overrule fathers (or vice versa) the authority of fathers can quickly erode. Similarly, if you keep denigrating teachers in front of your children you've done nothing good to teachers' authority, especially so if the authority of the teacher is already weakened by other forces. Yet another example are managers. While founders and top managers are given authority by their financial and legal position, authority of line and middle managers mostly depends on the authority given to them by their superiors. If a superior manager constantly meddles with decisions of a middle manager, employees will quickly render the middle manager as irrelevant and stop following his or her orders.

The more authority you command, the more you can project it to others. Authority is a dangerous tool that you should learn to use wisely.