I. Definition of Power
Power is defined in many ways, words and explanations. Power as generally defined as an: ability to act, regarded as latent or inherent; the faculty of doing or performing something; capacity for action or performance; capability of producing an effect, whether physical or moral: potency; might; as, a man of great power and; the power of capillary attraction. A person can have power over you only if he or she controls something you desire.
II. Contrasting Leadership and Power
Power does not require goal compatibility, merely dependence. Leadership, on the other hand, requires some congruence between the goals of the leader and those being led. A second difference relates to the direction of influence. Leadership focuses on the downward influence patterns. Power does not. In still another difference, leadership research, for the most part, emphasizes style. In contrast, the research on power focuses on tactics for gaining compliance. It goes beyond the individual as the exerciser of power because groups as well as individuals can use power to control other individuals or groups.
III. Bases of Power
A. Formal Power
Formal power is based on individual’s position in an organization. It can come from the ability to coerce or reward, or from formal authority.
Coercive Power – The power base depends on fear of the negative results from failing to comply. It rests on the application, or the threat of application, of physical sanctions such as the infliction of pain, frustration through restriction of movement, or the controlling by force of basic physiological or safety needs.
Reward Power – The opposite of coercive power, with which people comply because it produces positive benefits, someone who can distribute rewards others view as valuable will have power over them. These rewards can be either financial such as controlling pay rates, raises, and bonuses or nonfinancial, including recognition, promotions, interesting work assignments, friendly colleagues, and preferred work shifts or sales territories.
Legitimate Power – This power is broader than the power to coerce and reward. Specifically, it includes members acceptance of the authority of a position. We associate power so closely associated with the concept of hierarchy that just drawing longer lines in an organization chart leads people to infer the leaders are especially powerful, and when a powerful executive is described, people tend to put the person at a higher position when drawing an organization chart. B. Personal Power
Personal Power which comes from an individual’s unique characteristics have two bases of power: expert and referent power.
Expert Power – This power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skill, or knowledge. As jobs become more specialized, we become increasingly dependent on experts to achieve goals.
Referent Power – This power is based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits. Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that person.
IV. Dependency: The Key to Power
Dependency increases when the resource you control is important, scarce, and nonsubstitutable.
Importance – If nobody wants what you have, its not going to create dependency. Organizations, for instance, actively seek to avoid uncertainty. We should, therefore, expect that the individuals or groups who can absorb an organization’s uncertainty will be perceived as controlling an important resource.
Scarcity – Scarcity-dependency relationship in the power of occupational categories. Where the supply of labor is low relative to demand, workers can negotiate compensation and benefits packages far more attractive than can those in occupations with an abundance of candidates.
Nonsubstitutability – The fewer viable substitute for a resource, the more power control over that resource provides. The more recognition, the more...
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