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Where does authority come from?

In a post yesterday, an important and interesting question was raised about boldness and humility. I've been thinking about how each quality can bequeath - or undermine - a sense of authority. For example, years ago I remember speaking to a group of visiting scholars from Mainland China ... still during the years of the Cultural Revolution. I remember one of the scholars said to me, "Thank you for not telling us what we should think. In our political setting, when anyone tells us what to think, we know he is a liar." So for them, humility trumped boldness.

But I also remember during the last presidential campaign when two "surrogates" for the candidates were being interviewed on NPR. McCain's surrogate began nearly every sentence with, "Senator McCain believes ... Senator McCain values ... Senator McCain is committed to ..." It was bold and, frankly, attractive (even though I found McCain's campaign deeply disturbing). Obama's surrogate, in contrast, began many sentences with, "That's a complicated question.... It's hard to answer that question ... It's really too complex to answer with just a yes or no." There I was, a big supporter of Obama, but his surrogate was making his candidate seem confused, lackluster, and unsure of himself in comparison to McCain. I remember writing to a few of my friends who were on the campaign staff and urging them to school their surrogates on communicating with confidence/boldness rather than complexity. (There are other situations, of course, where people gain authority by acknowledging the complexities of a situation.)

Anyway, I've been thinking about different ways people gain power ...

Power by position
Power by appearance
Power by scholarship
Power by inspiration
Power by pedigree
Power by story-telling ability
Power by domination/fear
Power by results
Power by confidence
Power by acknowledging complexity
Power by example
Power by humility
Power by vulnerability
Power by enthusiasm
Power by servanthood

Which kinds of power earn the most confidence for you? Which turn you off? Why? (I'd be interested to see some replies over on my facebook page.)