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5 Sources of Power

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Jeff Spears Professor Oliver MG 302; Chapter 10 April 8, 2013 Five Sources of Managerial Power Leadership is one of four primary tasks of management. Within leadership is power, and where there is power, comes the affect power plays on the behavior of others. The behaviors can determine how a subordinate will act in a certain way or in certain conditions. Power is divided into five separate and distinct sources of managerial power; coercive, reward, legitimate, expert, and referent power. These five bases of power are divided in two categories, formal and personal power.

Coercive and reward are in the formal categories.

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Legitimate, expert, and referent to are in the personal category. Later I will explain why each power falls into one group or the other. Coercive, most of the time, the negative of the powers is defined as the ability of a manager to punish others. Punishment can range from verbal to reprimands to reduction in pay or working hours to actual dismissal. Coercive power is conveyed through fear of losing something.

A great example of coercive power is when a parent takes away a child’s electronics, allowance, or social time as punishment for poor performance whether it be academically or not completing chores around the house.

Surely we can all relate to this example. A more grown-up example is talked about in our textbook, the CEO verbally criticizing, attacking and embarrassing top managers, only to eventually find his self on the unemployment line. No one likes to be the recipient of coercive power. However, if coercive power is presented correctly, it can be a beneficial power for all involved including the subordinates. Reward power is one of the fastest ways to persuade or influence to get a desired result from a subordinate. Reward power is defined as having the ability to give or withhold tangible and intangible rewards.

Tangible rewards are considered extra time off, pay raises, bonuses, and choice job assignments. Intangible rewards are considered verbal praise, quietly or in front of peers, a pat on the back, and respect. Effective managers use their reward power to show appreciation for a job well done. Ineffective managers use their rewards power in a more controlling manner to signal to subordinates that the manager has the upper hand. On the negative side of reward power, if used to show favoritism, it can greatly demoralize employees and diminish their productivity.

This concludes the formal group. Now you can tell why these two powers are grouped as formal. You have the punishment and the reward, which most of the time if completed appropriately and professionally, the manager may have some type of documentation to deliver to the subordinate, either a performance counseling documentation, known as a “write-up”, or a victory plaque. Legitimate power is defined by the authority that a manager has by virtue of his or her position in an organization’s hierarchy, also known as positional power.

Positional power is neither positive nor negative; it is simply a power that comes with the held position. Ineffective managers can abuse legitimate power when they feel threatened by a subordinate. An example is when the subordinate produces more effective and efficient ideals than the manager, then the manager, in fear of loosing his position to the subordinate, retaliates by creating obstacles to prevent the subordinate from being successful (keeping his star from shining bright), or claiming the subordinates ideas for his own.

Expert power is defined as having an influence due to expertise to influence others. It changes behaviors in individuals or an organization based on knowledge in an area. To stay current and to keep expert power, it is essential to take steps to ensure that they have an adequate amount of knowledge to perform their leadership roles by obtaining additional training and education on the subject or field, and keep current on the latest developments and changes in technology. Expert power tends to be best used in a guiding or coaching manner.

As consequence of the expert, a leader is able to convince his subordinates to trust him. When individuals perceive or assume that a person possesses superior skills or abilities, they award power to that person. This causes the lesser knowledgeable to become subordinate to the expert. For example, most department stores are separated into departments, the shoe department, toy department, sporting goods department, etc. Typically, a department manager heads each department.

For this department to be successful in customer service and meeting sales goals, it is imperative that the department manager is an expert about the products and items in that department. The person that knows the most about all the products typically is the person that is looked for when information is needed, and in this example, usually has the highest sales, and is expected to train new and current employees. As new products arrive, the expert must spend time learning everything about the product to maintain his/her expert leadership status or leadership role.

Referent power is defined as power that comes from subordinates’ and coworkers’ respect, admiration, and loyalty. This power is the complete opposite of legitimate power, where the power comes with the position. Referent power is a function of the personal characteristics of a leader that arises from charisma, as the charismatic person influences others via the admiration, respect, and trust others have for the power holder. Meaning this power doesn’t automatically come with a position title, nor can a manager or leader demand this power.

It is a power that is earned from subordinates that is based on respect, trust, and honesty by treating people and employees equal, and with care. The position title where this power is seen more than any other is in Human Resource Departments. The HR associate is known for ensuring the employees wellbeing, earning the referent power from the employees in the company. In conclusion it’s important for power holders to recognize there power and the five bases of power. Subconsciously managers use poses and use, if not all, most of these powers on a daily bases without thinking about it.

Now we can be much more cognizant of them and that will help us be more effective managers and motivators of the people we manage. In turn by using power bases properly we can expect improved quality of work and improved productivity because the power we have will be better utilized in creating effectiveness and efficiency among subordinates. Finally power is perceived: we have power only when we make others really believe we have power, we have productive power only when we can connect and motivate.

That’s an affective power holder. ? References 1. Wikipedia- http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/French_and_Raven’s_five_bases_of_power 2. The Fast Track- http://quickbase. intuit. com/blog/2011/08/26/the-5-types-of-power-in-leadership/ 3. The Role of Leaders in Influencing Unethical Behavior in the Workplace- http://www. corwin. com/upm-data/4910_Kidwell_Chapter_3. pdf 4. Chron- http://smallbusiness. chron. com/reduce-misuse-power-workplace-43541. html 5. Lukes, Steven. Power: A Radical View. London: Macmillan Press, 1974

Cite this 5 Sources of Power

5 Sources of Power. (2016, Oct 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/5-sources-of-power/

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