The main difference between authority and responsibility authority involves the legal right an official in a formal position has to give commands, instructions, or orders to subordinates in order to make them perform a particular task, while responsibility is the obligation subordinates hold regarding a specific duty or a task assigned to them by the superiors.
Any employee, whether he is a superior or a subordinate, has a responsibility to perform and complete assigned tasks. However, only a superior has the authority to command and give orders in order to make employees under him perform their duties and responsibilities assigned.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Authority
– Definition, Characteristics
2. What is Responsibility
– Definition, Characteristics
3. Similarities Between Authority and Responsibility
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Authority and Responsibility
– Comparison of Key Differences
What is Authority
Authority involves the legal and formal right a professional has to order, command, or give instructions and directions for subordinates in order to make them properly complete an assigned task. For instance, if you are a manager of an organization, you are entitled to make various decisions regarding performance-based or non-performance-based tasks in a particular manner in order to accomplish organizational objectives. There, you can use your authoritative power to drive subordinates to work efficiently and achieve organizational goals.
When it comes to authority, the highest level of authority is at the top level of the organization, and it decreases as we climb down the corporate hierarchy. Simply put, authority flows go from top to bottom in the corporate hierarchy, making the superiors have authority over the subordinates.
What is Responsibility
Responsibility involves the obligation of any individual, whether he is a superior or a subordinate of a company, to perform a duty or the task assigned to him by senior professionals.
If you accept to perform any task, you hold the responsibility for it, your performance, and its consequences too. The basis of any responsibility is the sense of obligation it generates. More significantly, responsibility is an outcome of the superior-subordinate relationship in an organization.
Similarities Between Authority and Responsibility
- Both authority and responsibility are significant in ensuring the effective functioning of any organization.
- Moreover, authority and responsibility involve the employees of an organization to different degrees.
- We can describe responsibility as a result of authority.
Difference Between Authority and Responsibility
Authority refers to the legal right an official in a formal position has to give commands, instructions, or orders to subordinates in order to make them perform a particular task. On the other hand, responsibility is the obligation of the subordinate regarding a specific duty or task assigned by the superior.
When it comes to an organization, authority flows downwards from superiors towards subordinates, whereas responsibility is usually exacted upwards.
Authority is basically a legal right, while responsibility is a result of authority.
The position of an employee in an organization is the deciding factor of his or her degree of authority, whereas the superior-subordinate relationship determines the basis for responsibility.
An employee with authority is expected to have the ability to command, order, and instruct subordinates, while employees who hold the responsibility to carry out an assigned task need to have the ability to follow orders and be obedient.
In conclusion, the main difference between authority and responsibility authority involves the legal right an official in a formal position has to give commands, instructions, or orders to subordinates in order to make them perform a particular task, while responsibility is the obligation subordinates hold regarding a specific duty or a task assigned to them by the superiors. Simply put, responsibility is an after-result of authority.
1. “Executive Hierarchy Staff Organization Chart Work” (CC0) via Max Pixel
2. “Handwriting Text Responsibility Loading. Concept meaning Forecasting the future event” By Jernej Furman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr