September 20, 2010
While there are many factors that make leaders successful, power and influence behaviors and my gender will affect my leadership success throughout my personal and professional life. Properly using power and influence as a leader in the workplace is important, especially for women who may have a harder time as leaders in the workplace. This essay will describe the specific ways that power and influence and gender issues affect on leadership and how I will apply them in my life. Power and influence behavior jointly determine leadership effectiveness (Yukl, 2010). Power is what is used to influence people. There are a number of types of power and the type of power used depends on many variables and situations. The French and Raven classified types of power are Legitimate Power, Reward Power, Coercive Power, Expert Power and Referent Power. Other types of power are Information Power and Ecological Power. Legitimate Power is where the leader has authority over the work activities and the target person complies out of obligation. This type of power is widely used in organizations. Reward Power is defined as the target person complies in order to obtain rewards that the leader controls (Yukl, 2010, Pg. 154). Reward power is used in many organizations and in my experience is combined with legitimate power. Coercive Power is power typically used in the military or maybe in prisons it is where the leaders use punishments to control the followers and where strict rules and regulations are present and where discipline must be maintained. Expert power is where the leader is believed to have special knowledge and skills on how to perform the job tasks. In my experience this is where the leader or manager would have most likely trained the target persons on how to perform the tasks or has performed the tasks and job duties themselves. In my last position at my current organization I reported to someone who taught me how to do everything he had learned. He trained me so he could spend more time on analysis rather than tasks. This worked really well and it was a positive environment to work in. The last of the French and Raven classifications of power is Referent Power, this is where the followers admire the leader and wants to stay in their favor and have their approval. This last type of power I have seen first hand in my department. The followers perform their tasks only to seek the approval of their manager. They do not appear to care so much about the directives from the organization as a whole and only care what their leader’s wants or needs. I can see how this type of power is useful but I do not think overall that it is very practical in today’s organizations. Information power is where a person has control of or over crucial information within the organization. A leader or a subordinate can have this type of power. I have this type of power in my current position because I have been with the company longer than my manager. However, she can be brought up to speed in most areas quickly because she is very smart. The last type of power is Ecological Power which is control over the physical environment, technology or structure of the work. I sense that most leaders possess some type of this power. In my organization the director level and above in management have the power to change their team’s environment, job duties and outcomes. Power equals influence and the more power a leader has the more influence she has over her followers and she will be more successful. Maintaining and acquiring power is important for all leaders and even more important is not losing the acquired. A skilled leader should have no problem maintaining power but the amount of expertise a leader has may affect how much influence and power can be maintained. The Social Exchange Theory and Strategic Contingency Theory explain how power can be acquired and lost. The Social...
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