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Leadership vs Authority

Updated: Jan 16

My fav quote from my class this morning: Most people use “leadership” and “authority” interchangeably. Ron Heifetz argues that there is a great difference between a figure of authority and a leader and that people in authority do not usually exercise leadership, while a leader oftentimes leads without formal authority (Flower, 1995). In the language of Adaptive Leadership, authorities perform very distinct functions: they provide their constituents with direction, protection, answers, orientation to role and to place, control of conflict, and maintenance of norms. Leaders differ from authorities in that they introduce disorientation, orchestrate conflict, raise difficult questions, and challenge norms. Sometimes a leader operates from a position of authority and can find that having authority provides both advantages and constraints to leader’s efforts to mobilize people for change (Flower, 1995).

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