7 Ways to Gain Authority

Cat with crown

Those who constantly demand and use authority don’t deserve it. Thoreau said, “Any fool can make a rule…”

Longing for authority reveals a deep sense of powerlessness, unwillingness to defend ideas, and lack of commitment to work with others.

But, authority has a role in organizations.


The limit of authority is service.

The power of authority is shared values.

Delegated authority is permission to act
without constantly asking permission.


7 Ways to gain authority:

  1. Don’t pull rank. Treat people as equals.
  2. Use authority to serve.
  3. Remove obstacles rather than creating them.
  4. Live under the authority of those over you.
  5. Build alliances both up and down organizational hierarchies.
  6. Network beyond your organization.
  7. Gather and listen to advisers.


Those who cling to authority loose it.

Those who give authority gain it.


Give authority:

  1. Authorize teams to hire their teammates.
  2. Release others to take action, apart from your direct guidance.
  3. Delegate decisions and hold people responsible for their choices.


Don’t give authority to those hungry for authority. Give authority to those hungry to serve.

Giving authority can’t be neglect.  You lose authority when others believe you are neglecting your responsibilities.

10 ways to spot someone you can trust with authority?

  1. Vision. Do they want to go where you’re going?
  2. Context. Do they know where they fit in and how others fit in? Do they see the big picture?
  3. Consequences. Do they understand the consequences of their decisions?
  4. Competence. Have they demonstrated competence in the past?
  5. Accountability. Do they take responsibility for their decisions and actions?
  6. Follow-through. Do they get things done?
  7. Integrity. Do they admit mistakes?
  8. Ownership. Do they take it personally?
  9. Connection. Are they connected to others?
  10. Compassion. Do they care?

Bonus: Values. Do they strongly align with organizational values?

Facebook fans answer: “Gain authority by _________.”

How is authority best delegated?

How can leaders gain authority?