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Glossary

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Authority Gradient

Refers to the balance of decision-making power or the steepness of command hierarchy in a given situation. Members of a crew or organisation with a domineering, overbearing, or dictatorial team leader experience a steep authority gradient. Expressing concerns, questioning, or even simply clarifying instructions would require considerable determination on the part of team members who perceive their input as devalued or frankly unwelcome.

Most teams require some degree of authority gradient; otherwise roles are blurred and decisions cannot be made in a timely fashion. However, effective team leaders consciously establish a command hierarchy appropriate to the training and experience of team members.

Authority gradients may occur even when the notion of a team is less well defined. For instance, an operator calling an engineer to clarify an instruction may encounter a steep authority gradient, based on the tone of the engineer?s voice or a lack of openness to input from the operator. A confident, experienced operator may nonetheless continue to raise legitimate concerns about an instruction, but other operators might not.

 

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