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The myth about power and authority

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

The myth about power and authority. Leaders often live with the myth that they have power and exert authority.

Authority is seen to be a top down phenomenon. That is not true. Authority is granted upwards but executed downwards. Authority flows from the subject to the power.

We grant others authority over us out of either greed, need or fear. Until we submit they have no authority over us. We grant authority to someone or some entity by obeying them or complying with their wishes and dictates.

That is why the first step of anyone coming to power is to ensure submission.

Obtaining submission by fear is the fastest and most potent, but it is easily reversed. Submission here is obtained under duress. This is why this is the approach used by disciplinarians, intolerant religions and totalitarian regimes.

Obtaining submission by pandering to the greed is almost equally effective as fear. It is a form of bribe and hence it is very expensive in terms of resource consumption. An example is the deployment of this approach to win votes in a democracy by politicians.

Obtaining submission by catering to needs is slow but most effective. It is the approach of winning hearts and minds and is the hallmark of civilisational approach. It is easy to be realised in enlightened democracies.

Whatever be the approach once they submit they are ours.


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