Weber believed that authority played a large role in society and that it greatly influenced the way individuals acted. He categorized authority into three different types: rational/legal, traditional, and charismatic.
A rational/legal authority rests on a belief in the legality of enacted rules. Obedience is not given to a specific individual leader, but a set of uniform principles. A traditional authority rests on the established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions. The ability and right to rule is passed down, often through heredity. It does not change overtime, does not facilitate social change, tends to be irrational and inconsistent, and perpetuates the status quo. A charismatic authority rests on the devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person. It is found in a leader whose mission and vision inspire others. I believe these three types of authority can be found in modern societies across the world, proving Weber’s theory relevant even in current times.
A rational/legal authority is present in the United States government. The majority of bureaucratic officials and political leaders are great examples of this type of authority. For example, President Barack Obama. He was elected through legal means, and was appointed on the basis of conduct and his technical qualifications. He is required to abide by the constitution, and be impartial.
Traditional authorities exist mostly outside of the United States. Most of the representatives of any dynasty ruling for more than one generation (kings, emperors, sultans, etc.) would fall into this category. Often the male head of a common family would be considered a traditional leader. For example, Kim Jong-il succeeded his father, and was the supreme leader of North Korea from 1994 to 2011.
Charismatic authority exists as well. A great example is President George W. Bush. Although he had little military experience, he was able to project a sense of urgency to much of the American populace about the need to attack Iraq. His demeanor and the continual media attention to his threats towards Iraq were likely the only messages most Americans received. According to many polls, a good number of Americans were willing to simply trust Bush in whatever he did on the matter. Other (more negative) examples of charismatic leaders are Charles Manson, and Jim Jones.