A.5.1.1 Pattern: Authority Figure

A group of people is attempting to accomplish some task as effectively and efficiently as possible. The nature of the task is such that it is not immediately obvious who should do what or how the task should be structured. In order to increase efficiency and effectiveness, specific roles are being assigned to specific people or subteams. Perhaps time is limited. Or perhaps the situation is such that the team members are quite unequal in terms of either skill or power.

How can people organize their work in an effective and efficient manner?

· Different people have different backgrounds, experiences and skills. Therefore, they have different beliefs about the best approach to the task at hand.
· Discussion and debate about the details of how the group should work may not converge or may take a large proportion of the time and resources allocated to the task itself.
· Some individuals in the group may have more expertise, experience, and skill in making relevant decisions about how to proceed than others.
· Some individuals in the group may have more power and hence their buy-in to the process by which the group operates is vital.

One person serves as an “authority figure” who has final say about the direction of the group, the assignment of tasks and so on. The authority figure may find it useful to give a short rationale about his or her decisions. The authority figure may, in fact, encourage open debate about certain issues and may decide to follow someone else’s advice. However, it is clear to all group members that the authority figure has the final say.

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