Social living depends on authority. We often equate leadership with authority because we often associate leaders who achieve high positions of authority and not their lack of leadership they provide. Because we equate leadership with authority we never see the struggle of leadership and getting there.
The Function of Dominance to Primate Societies
Silverback gorillas are the leaders of the troop when they move as a group they are always the first in the line maintaining a general direction. They have an earth shaking chest thump that sends out a signal to other silverbacks and it has a terrifying effect. They are the focal point that orients others to their places when traveling for food. Also they have a control function that which is to mediate aggression within the group and maintain stability.
Human society has 3 caveats that are necessary for analyzing. 1. the hierarchies in primate societies involve small groups at least by modern human standards. 2. human societies may not coordinate themselves by the same mechanisms that other animals societies use. 3. we have seen the misuse of Darwin's theory in the form of social Darwinism the ideas that someone, should dominate and two those who do must deserve to.
Studies show that high-ranking studies are the dominant children. And those middle and low ranking spend their time focused on the high ranking students rather then themselves. A child that commands the most attention often initiated and organized games, interceded as a third party to break up disputes and initiated the group when interacting with another group. At particular phases of development development are children to picking up different receptive of lessons and cues like language, climbing or social grace. Those dominant chimpanzees resemble dominant gorillas and children.
Small adult groups have 3 generalizations: 1. when men and women who do not know one another form a new group and undertake a task, they routinely establish a hierarchy of roles. 2. the group often informally selects and authorizes one of its own members to chair the group in of the person designated by the scientist in charge. 3. the group looks to its chairperson for certain services.
From Dominance to Authority: Heifetz defines authority as conferred power to perform a service and useful to the practitioner of leadership as a reminder of these two facts: 1. authority is given and can be taken away/ 2. authority is conferred as part of an exchange. If you fail to meet the terms then that can result in a loss of authority. Coming from dominance to authority could give you an head start from what yo already know. As theoretical types of power relations, dominance and authority can be viewed as distinct. Dominance relationships are based upon coercion and authority relationships are voluntary and conscious.
Authority and Culture: Human evolution reached another major milestone with the development of the mental ability to internalize representations of authority as conscience. We learn lessons from the voices of our parents, teachers, and others and it is up to us to take that and apply it to our work. We can trace the richness, creativity, and complexity of our cultures and organizations to our ability as individuals to carry on internal debate with other voices including our own. Having a variety of cultures can be a good thing but it does not replace the need of a an authority.
Stress and Charismatic Authority: Situations and conflicts are daily workings for individuals. And authority has the know how to fulfill our expectations, what they don't do our prevailing cultural norms will cover. The founding fathers are remembered to be invested with charisma by those around him, over time the office of senior authority takes on a life of its own. When stress becomes overwhelming we seem willing to grant extraordinary power and give up our freedom. And charisma is given to those who voice our pains and provides us with promise. To add when our shared norms can no longer provide us with sufficient orientation the capacity of authority relationships to contain the stresses of society provides a key backup system.