different forms of authority

I am close to finishing my training as an INSEAD Certified Coach. There is a closing module in May, but in between now and then a lot of practice and reading is required. I love reading and usually I decide upon what I pick but now the professors decide what is a must read. Not everything sticks, but then occasionally there is that insight or model that really shapes your thinking. It happened when I read “Changing on the Job : Developing Leaders for a Complex World” by Jennifer Garvey Berger.

Garvey defines four orientations to authority. What follows is my personal interpretation of her study :


The only perspective a person can automatically take while in the self-sovereign form of mind is his own. He may experience all other perspectives as mysterious and can only make a guess at them from what he sees.

Authority is found in rules and regulations. When two external authorities disagree, it can be frustrating but not internally problematic.

All babies are in self-sovereign mode. The only perspective is me.

Think Donald Trump !


Looking through the socialized form of mind, a person can take – and become embedded in – the perspectives of other people / theories / organizations / religions. When she sees the world, she sees it through these other perspectives, judging right and wrong, good and bad, from the perspectives of others.

Authority is an internalized value / principle / role which comes from outside herself. When those important values / principles / roles conflict (as when her religion disagrees with an important value fro her partner), she feels an internal tearing, as though parts of herself were pitted against one another.

The child realizes there are other children with different views and values.


Seeing the world through the self-authored form of mind means a person can take multiple perspectives while maintaining his own. He can understand the views and opinions of others and often uses those views or opinions to strengthen his own argument or set of principles.

Authority is found in the self. The self-authored system determines the individual’s rules and regulations for himself. When others disagree, it can be inconvenient or unpleasant, but is not internally wrenching.

As an adult I am aware of my values and those of others. I can and frame them, without de facto having to review my own principles.


With a self-transforming mind, a person sees and understands the perspectives of others and uses those perspectives to continuously transform her own system, becoming more expansive and more inclusive. She does not use the perspectives of others to fine-tune her own argument or principles as when she was self-authoring; rather, she puts the entire system a risk for change with interaction with others.

Authority is fluid and shared, and is not located in any particular person or job. Rather, authority comes from the combination of the situation and the people in the situation. A new situation (or different players) may cause a shift in where authority is located.

As a manager I am fully aware of who I am and the impact of what I do, but I easily integrate new insights.

“Changing on the Job : developing Leaders for a complex World”, Jennifer Gavery Berger, Standford University Press, 2012.

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