Positional and Personal Power

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"Drawing from positional sources of power is more effective in organizational settings than drawing from personal sources of power." Discuss.

In this coursework I shall discuss two theories explaining different sources of power that related to positional sources of power and personal sources of power. I shall outline the usage of positional sources of power and personal sources of power , I also use sources to support or against statement. After that comparison will exist between positional sources of power and personal sources of power since by using some examples. Finally, I shall decide whether I agree or disagree this statement and comment on the influence of both sources of power in contemporary organizational systems and then conclude about the most effective way for manager. As a manager of the firm, power is a significant tool to influence employees. French and Raven's(1959,p434-435) shows that power can be divided by five sources that include legitimate power,reward power,coercive power,referent power and expertise power. Hales(2001,p435) develops further on French and Raven's theory claiming that coercive power, reward power,expertise power and referent power can involve both a personal and a positional source, except legitimate power which is only belonging to positional sources of power. It is manifest that positional power is depends on the role of the person in the organization whereas personal power is derived by the individual's personality, skills and capabilities. Now, it is turning to explain the usage of positional power and personal power by analysing the theory of French and Raven(1959,p434-435). Legitimate power appears to be derived from the formal position of a person in the organization which means the higher the position, the greater the power. For example, the boss has the power to decide to recruit or cut staffs, make capital expenditures and investment decisions. Actually, legitimate power is really useful.As Kanter(1979,p438-439) proposed that managers can enhance powers by assigning some of power to underlings. Since if the subordinates share the manager's power, they would realize their responsibility and the sense of identity which is advantageous to enhance their confidence and finally maximize the potential of employees. Secondly, reward power is the capability of a manager has to reward employees if they follow the instruction. The rewards can include increasing salaries,promotions,bonuses and additional time off. It is evident that reward is the most practical way to motivate staff to complete the job. Therefore, having an efficient rewards system implies that a company has a hierarchical management structure.However, Simon(December 17,2007) argues that the manager should use the rewards system carefully. Simon explains that: "One mistake that leaders often make is to assume that the reward is worth the effort in the eyes of their followers.Another possibility is that it could create or reinforce an entitlement culture where explicit rewards are the only motivation, and the revocation of the rewards creates the opposite outcome. It is also possible that followers who do not receive rewards can foster jealousy or resentment creating further problems within the organization." I support Simon's argument.It is a normal phenomenon in a company that there are some staffs who are only motivated by rewards, they tend to focus solely on their own benefit. This will ultimately cause the CEO making the wrong decision and then stunts the development of the company. Using the reward system as a motivation also brings negative atmosphere around the office like "entitlement culture" which means employees tend to pursue rewards in excess by creating a cutthroat environment. However, if the management withdraws the rewards that may result in a general strike.Moreover, reward setting also may trigger the cut-throat competition among peers. In comparison with positional source of reward power,...
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