Friday, 25 October 2013

Authority is the exercise of it



Authority is not an order on a paper, but the exercise of it.
One may be authorized to do an action by the order of a higher authority. He may have an order from his master on the authority over a group of people, materials or area. Still if he is not exercising it, the authority thus endorsed remains null.

All authority that man has comes from a higher authority. Authority is not self assumed. Self assumed authority is described by terms like dictatorship, totalitarianism etc. which is not desirable. The world has a hesitation to accept self assumed authority. So authority of all kinds must be supported by a higher authority.

What is this higher authority? Answer may differ from person to person. I prefer to presume that the higher authority is God, the Creator and Lord of the universe. You may disagree with me about God. That is alright. Still, we do not approve a self assumed authority. All authority of man must be endorsed by a higher authority.

What we discuss here is not the identity of the higher authority. Our discussion is that a mere endorsement of authority by a higher authority is not real authority. Authority is not an order from a higher authority, but the exercise of it.

Authority becomes alive only by speaking and acting upon it. A sleeping lion is not a danger. A wakeful lion which prowls and runs is a danger. Authority is not a title, not a position and not an office. It is the exercise of the title, position and the office. A sleeping police officer does not have any authority as long as he sleeps. He may be wearing symbols of the authority but they are not exercised.

How shall we exercise authority?

Authority can be exercised through intimidation and leadership. A successful leader never uses intimidation as a means to exercise authority. Intimidation is the tool of cowards and less talented people.
We scream when we see a poisonous snake because we are afraid of it. We yell out at a barking dog because we are afraid of it. A snake charmer uses sweet music and other techniques to pacify the snake. The master of the dog gives instructions to the barking dog to go back to its kennel in a soft voice. The village tricks of the snake charmer and the commands of the dog’s master in a soft voice are obeyed because there is authority in it. Intimidation is the tool of incompetent people.

Leaders exercise authority by being a model to his subordinates. Leaders do not command, but leads others into a job. Real authority is never felt, but always obeyed. It never humiliates, but uplifts. It is always an encouragement, appreciation, applaud and a positive comment. It leaves behind lasting impressions that are cherished.

So authority may be exercised by speaking, acting and leading.


Professor Jacob Abraham

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