Can the Senior Generation Keep it's Authority and Still Allow Succession to Happen?

Business Leader Post, January 11, 2012

Thomas D. Davidow, Ed.D.

The answer is yes! However, it does require that as the senior generation, you make a shift in how you exercise your role of authority.

I see three kinds of authority: The first is institutional authority, as is the case with a president’s authority or parents’ authority. The second is personal authority – that is, based on the confidence in their relationship with you, people are willing to listen to you. A third authority is rooted in your skill and knowledge, which also inspires others to listen to you.

Succession requires the next generation to assume more authority and more responsibility. The best way for people to learn is by having the opportunity to make decisions. Heads of companies make hundreds of decisions every day. I believe that success is not based on the number of correct decisions one makes, but on how quickly one is able to respond to wrong decisions. The training for leadership requires a certain level of freedom for decision making. Finding the balance between having freedom and being managed is the key.

As the senior generation, if you replace your role as president and parent (institutional authority) with the role of mentor, your authority is then based on personal authority and the authority that comes with knowledge and experience. The mentor provides support and guidance. I suggest that you Google “mentor” and spend some time reading about it. You can have your cake and eat it too.