Hi we want to provide access to our content authors where they can start editing any item without the need to lock it. I am able to do this when I provide them administrator access. Is there a way we can do this, by not making them an administrator, but by a custom role?
Like Micheal West said, If there is no locking functionality then When one editor is currently working on the item, it would be a tragedy for another editor to overwrite their changes. But in your case, there is a setting "RequireLockBeforeEditing" in the configuration which you can make it as false.
<setting name="RequireLockBeforeEditing" value="false" />
NOTE: This is not a Sitecore recommended practice.