Understanding Discipline

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James Griffin

Understanding Discipline

Authority and the Nature of Authority P5, P6, M4

Russ Sheath


‘The right to control or direct the actions of others; legitimized by law, morality, custom or consent.’

        Authority is very important in the Uniformed Public Services as this allows for members of higher rank to be obeyed when giving out orders.  Authority is the power and responsibility placed upon someone to control subordinates.  An example of authority would be a Drill Sergeant giving drill commands to a squad when doing drill; the Sergeant has been given the necessary authority and responsibility to perform this. Authority can be shown in many ways such as rank, tradition or by law.

Describe four types of authority

There are four different types of authority and these are authoritarian, dictatorial, consultative, and participative.


Authoritarian authority is a type of authority where there is a strict hierarchy, and order always gets passed down it. All orders given must be obeyed and carried out. And where orders are not completed there is bound to be punishment. This is based around leaders because authoritarian leaders do not take advice from subordinates. Some would describe severe authoritarianism as dictatorship.


Dictatorial authority is a very severe version of authoritarian authority. There is a hierarchy here as well, but the overall leader is indefinitely charge and has absolute power.  Team members who are under this type of authority must have a huge amount of discipline as they are not aloud to ask questions on the relevance of their orders; they must do what they are ordered to do because the leader says so.  This type of authority can have many disadvantages such as low morale within the team, and defection.  Also this type of authority can sometimes lead to very harsh punishment to those who disobey such as torture and violence.  

Consultative authority is fairly democratic style of authority, which means that everybody within the team is treated with respect and given a chance to use their skills to improve the task.  The leader gives his team members the chance to voice their opinions and ideas on tasks before he makes his decision but the leader is always the person who makes the final decision. There is generally a strong bond and a great deal of respect between the leader and his team, as he or she knows what each individuals strengths and weaknesses are which enables them to have good team working skills and the team members will respect the leader because they are being encouraged to use their skills extensively.  This type of authority enables a fair system to be setup which allows for team members to develop discipline skills.  However in times of crisis the leader would have to take a more authoritarian style so that they could get out quickly and safely. This authority is only effective with a skilled and disciplined team with experience in the work being undertaken.

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Participative authority is even more democratic than consultative, and this is because this style of authority strongly relates to the laissez faire leadership style in which there is no definite leader and everyone has as much authority as each other.  This type of style is very hard to control and organise as it’s considered a free for all. This style relies on the whole team to come to a joint decision on what to do and how to do it, which can prove to be a lengthy process, however members in team that uses this style of authority will ...

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There is much of value in this essay but it does lose out by confusing authority, power and leadership and not clearly stating which it is about. I suspect that the writer is unclear. Sound research and preparation would have helped.