Some of the important characteristics of authority are:(a) legitimacy (b) dominance (c) an informal power (d) rationality and (e) accountability.
Legitimacy, dominance, informality, rationality and accountability are the characteristics of authority.
A brief account of these characteristics will not be out of place:
It determines the effectiveness of authority. Hence it is the hall mark of the concept of authority. According to Robert Dahl “A commands B and B feels A has perfect right to do so and to which he has complete obligation to obey. Power of this kind is often said to be legitimate………. Legitimate power is often called authority.”
Authority is capacity of the individual to command others. An individual or a group which possesses authority exercises dominance over other individuals. Authority is a command of superior to an inferior.
(c) An informal power:
It is not a formal power as it lacks characteristics which are the main features of power. According to Fredrick “Authority is not a power but something that accompanies power.” It is the quality in men and things which adds to their power, something which creates power but it is not itself power.
This is the main characteristic of authority. In the words of Fredrick, ‘The man who has authority possesses something that I would describe as the capacity for reasoned elaboration for giving convincing reasons for what he does or proposes to have others to do.” Evidently the basis of authority is logic or reason.
The individual or a group of individuals who possess authority are responsible to some higher authority. In a democratic system accountability is the most significant characteristic of authority.