All Posts in Category: Authority


A common misconception is that authority is bestowed. To the contrary, authority must be earned. Titles are bestowed and it is usually assumed that control and power come with the title. As a result, most managers overestimate the amount of control or power they have and tend to underestimate how much they can influence outcomes.

Authority is the right to decide no and the right to say yes. If someone has the right to decide either yes or no, but not both, they do not have authority. They have the illusion of authority. Empowering someone in an organization to decide no, but not yes, can limit performance and productivity. Authority (the ability to say yes or no) can and must be delegated. In addition, the limits of authority must be clearly defined. Freedom is greatest when boundaries are clearly defined. When people know exactly what their authority entails, they will be more confident to make correct decisions.

Power is the capacity to grant and withhold cooperation. You are a manager because there is a job to get done that you cannot do alone. If you cannot do it alone, you will need the cooperation of others. Therefore, anyone whose cooperation is needed has power. If a manager had both authority and power, everyone would cooperate automatically to get the job done.

A management problem arises when those with power (employees) refuse to cooperate. This lack of cooperation can be manifested in not getting work done at all or correctly, through slowness and delays, and poor quality. Attempts to gain cooperation with authority usually result in bribery or intimidation. If either of these methods worked consistently, most managers would not be needed.

The best way to deal with power (cooperation) is influence. Influence is the ability to get people to cooperate because it is in their best interest to do so. In order to influence people, you need to know what motivates them. To know what motivates them, you need to get to know them as a person because it’s hard to motivate a stranger.

To get to know the people on your team, observe them, talk with them, listen to them and find out:

  • What they are interested in
  • What’s important to them
  • What they are proud of/what gives them a sense of pride
  • What they do for pleasure
  • What benefits they want to gain
  • What pain they want to avoid
  • What motivates them (it’s ok to ask them)
  • What type of feedback or recognition they prefer

Taking the time to get to know your team members will pay big dividends through better cooperation, improved motivation and morale, and improved performance and results.

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The proper use of authority will help you influence the people whose cooperation is needed to accomplish the tasks to be completed for the achievement of your organizational goals. The following ten points will help you use authority properly:

  1. Develop trust. It’s not automatically given; it must be earned. Be a person of integrity. Say what you are going to do and do what you say. Treat people fairly and with dignity and respect.
  1. Openly communicate more than you have to or need to. Make it your top priority. Communication, like nature, abhors a vacuum. In the absence of communication, people will create their own messages, typically in the form of rumor, innuendo, and gossip.
  1. Be as specific as possible in the words and phrases you use. Most conflicts and controversies are caused by people not understanding one another. When you use specific, easy to understand words and phrases, you increase the likelihood of being understood.
  1. Supply whatever background information and reasons people need to understand changes. General George S. Patton is quoted as saying, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and why, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” When you introduce change, make sure people understand why the changes are being made.
  1. Be absolutely honest with all employees. If you lie, or sugar-coat the truth, your credibility will be destroyed and, remember, the truth will always find you out.
  1. Actively share information. One of the strongest motivators for people is to be “in on things.” Hording information doesn’t give you power, sharing it does.
  1. Talk to an employee as one adult to another (the way you would like your boss to talk with you). Even if employees act like children, resist the temptation to treat them like children. People will live up or down to your expectations. When you treat people like adults, they are more likely to act in a mature way. When you are condescending toward people or treat them with disdain, they will feel it and resent you for it.
  1. Always solicit employee ideas, suggestions, and reactions. Everybody wants to feel important. Everybody can feel important when somebody understands and believes in them. It doesn’t take much effort to make people feel important. Little things, done deliberately, at the right time, can make a big difference. Soliciting ideas, suggestions, and reactions will not only make people feel important, you might be surprised at what you learn.
  1. Follow through, always – no exceptions. As a manager or supervisor, you are on stage all the time. If you don’t follow through, or if you drop the ball, you can expect your employees to do the same thing.
  1. Recognize the job of a manager is to remove roadblocks, irritants, and frustrations – not put them there. You need your employees more than they need you. When you remove roadblocks, irritants, and frustrations, you help your employees become successful and you will be successful also.

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Improving Morale on Your Team

Good team morale is one of the most important outcomes of a successful coach. Successful coaches take great pride in high morale and team spirit. They know when people work together as a team, their capacity for improving performance and results are dramatically expanded. They also know that high morale starts with them. Business leaders are, in essence, coaches. Their job is to bring out the best in their employees and help their team win. Getting and keeping the morale at a high level is one of the most important jobs of an effective leader.

Here are eight things you and your coaches can do to improve morale, performance, and results in your organization:

1. Know Your People. It is difficult to motivate a stranger. The more you know about your people, the more effective you will be at improving morale. What are their unique abilities; likes and dislikes; wants and needs? Do you know their goals? If not, why not? Do you know about their families? What are their hobbies and interests? What’s most import and to them?

2. Keep People Informed. Being in on things is one of the most powerful motivators for most people. When management fails to provide information the dangerous rumor-mill kicks in.

3. Make People Feel Important. Let them know, in as many ways as possible, that their contributions are important to the success of the organization.

4. Listen to People. One of the easiest ways to make people feel important and increase their contribution is to listen to them.

5. Keep Score.Uncertainty contributes to low morale. If players don’t know how to win on a daily basis, they will think there is no way to win, which leads to why try,which leads to low morale.

6. Always Celebrate Improvement. Look for improvement, no matter how small, and reinforce it with positive recognition. What gets rewarded gets done.

7. Conduct Regular Coaching Sessions. Focus on desired results and the behaviors needed to produce those results. Each coaching session needs to include the status of current results, the desired results, behaviors needed, by coach and player, to reach the results, and action steps that will be taken between coaching sessions.

8. Give Appropriate Feedback. Give frequent feedback. The severest form of criticism is not to find fault but to ignore someone. Give positive feedback. Positive feedback encourages and builds up. Negative feedback destroys initiative and morale. Give specific feedback that reinforces the behavior you want repeated for success.

Look for the following warning signs of a need to improve morale in your organization:


Turf protection

Excessive meetings

Low Productivity/profitability


Working at cross-purposes

Majoring on minors

Quality issues

Safety issues

Lack of new ideas/innovation

Lack of teamwork Missed deadlines

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