While power is defined as the ability of a person to influence others to follow his or her intentions. Leadership determines the capacity of a person to take the front line in undertaking a task as well as supporting other to pursue a similar course. Leadership power therefore is a definition of a critical part of management that enables leaders in different organizations to influence individuals in order to conduct various tasks as required (Bacon, 2011). Leaders are usually given lots of power that can be used in taking the organization to the expected level through positive influence and proper management. The influence of the leaders over the different kinds of people that they lead is hugely determined by their personality and work environment. To ensure that this influence is impacted positively in the management of the organization, it must be effectively exercised by the leaders (Lunenburg, 2012). There is a level of power that is always vested on the leaders of various organizations for their use in ensuring that the goals and objectives of the organization are achieved and even surpassed. Their possession of this power is also portrayed in the leaders’ ability to diligently handle all the diverse operations in organizations, and this can enable them to also influence others towards attaining desirable results. Leadership power is critical in the process of change implementation since it success is impacted by how well a leader can carries out this important activity (Rodney, 1997).
Leaders are very critical in any organization since they provide direction and support to other workers to make sure that all the activities of the company run as expected. These leaders must therefore possess the necessary type of power that can enable them to effectively influence others towards the achievement of the various tasks and goals without any hindrance. Therefore, leadership power is an important tool used in the management of people to ensure that organizations to effectively carry out their operations. There are various kinds of leadership powers that are exercised by leaders in the management of organizations (Bacon, 2011). One of them is reward power that is achieved through the issuance of rewards to employees by leaders after successful completion of tasks or conducting themselves according to the organization’s expectations. These rewards may vary from tangible gifts, promotions to increased commissions and salaries. This kind of power is acquired when the reward is given in the same measure as the task achieved, appealing to the recipient and offered to the intended persons (Lunenburg, 2012). Leaders should be cautious when issuing rewards so that the people do not get used to them, since this may undermine their impact. Besides, rewards should be given out in special occasions so that individuals do not refuse to deliver well without the promise and the actual receipt of those gifts. Another type of leadership power is called coercive power, which is mainly applied when controlling people by imposing penalties for failure to accomplish assigned tasks. Leaders mainly use this kind of power through issuing threats to individuals notifying them of the awaiting punishments for those who fail to meet the set targets. These threats and penalties can include being fired, verbal or physical abuse as well as delays in payment. People who operate under this type of leadership power are usually scared and motivated to accomplish the set goals in order to evade the numerous penalties (Rodney, 1997). Coercive power is effective in circumstances whereby the workers are convinced that their leader is able to enforce the penalties, and also when the employees fear being victimized. Most of the leaders who practice this type of leadership power are usually dreaded by their juniors who often tend to view them as masters. This type of leadership power creates less motivation to the employees and pushes a great number to seek resignation (Bacon, 2011).
Legitimate power is also another type of power leadership. This is bestowed upon the leaders through organizational authority and is usually linked to a particular position in the organization. The power is given to a person by the organization and usually confined to the particular roles and responsibilities that he or she is assigned. This gives a leader the ability to have control over people and resources in an organization, as well as punishing and rewarding employees based on their conducts and contributions. This power is generally accepted by many employees since they believe that is ideal in ensuring order and discipline within the company (Rodney, 1997). Legitimate power is effective when the people believe that the leader has the right of influencing them and that they have an obligation to show obedience. Reference power is yet another type of leadership power that is achieved when individuals are convinced that a particular leader has unique and admirable characteristics that they should learn. Therefore, it can be said that this leadership power develops from a strong admiration and desire of individuals to imitate the strong and impressive traits showed by their leader. Such admirable qualities usually come from great personality and charisma of a leader since he may influence the masses and even small groups of people. However, it should be noted that this type of power is not applied equally to all since some may not value and respect a particular leader while others may highly appreciate the leader. This style is best suited for an organization that needs to encourage individual to individual relationships, and also in situations whereby the employees do not frequently leave the organization. Another type of power that is also applied in organization is called expert power. This leadership power is acquired based on the renowned unique expertise of an individual in a given area. The expertise and experience enables an individual to command following from people that honor him or her and seeking to learn. Besides, this expertise should be relevant and credible, and also possessed by someone who is reliable and can be trusted. The power enables an individual to earn recognition as a leader despite his or her position in the organization. In this type of leadership power, the experts in various areas are involved in the top-level decision making since their contributions are of great value to the organization (Rodney, 1997). However, it should be noted for this form of leadership power to be effective, the said experts must have great skills that are admired by their followers. The juniors of this expert must also be convinced that the leader will show them how to accomplish tasks as expected owing to his rich skills and experience.
Informational power is also another type of leadership power that is bestowed upon an individual who has crucial information that significantly impacts the lives of the people in the company. This form of leadership power is usually applied by leaders in the persuasion and manipulation of employees by limiting, falsifying as well as withholding information (Rodney, 1997). The individual, whom this power has been bestowed upon therefore, becomes the centre of attraction since people will always be required to do as he or she says in order to acquire a share of the withheld information. The power usually exists as long as the person holds the important information and will cease to be effective as soon as the information is leaked or its relevance stops to apply to the organization.
There are various kinds of leadership power that are applied on different circumstances with the aim of obtaining the best results. Purpose is one of the factors that determine the leadership power style that should be applied. Therefore, people will choose a particular style that will ensure the effective and efficient accomplishment of the set objectives (Bacon, 2011). For instance, while a prison warden will apply coercive power in maintaining law and order in the prison premises, a manger in an organization will apply legitimate power in ensuring that all the tasks are effectively accomplished. Another factor that also influences the choice of leadership power is motive (Rodney, 1997). Individuals who are seeking power will mostly use coercive power to forcefully influence people towards obeying and following their instructions. Those who are seeking strong partnerships and cordial relationships will prefer referent and reward power in making sure that they are able to create a pleasant working environment that can facilitate better interactions. Attitude is also another element that is considered in choosing the leadership power to use on employees. Leaders with strong negative attitude towards their subjects are likely to apply coercive power in expressing their dislike and vengeance on them (Lunenburg, 2012). On the other hand, leaders with strong positive attitude towards their juniors will use reward power even in circumstances whereby coercive power was viewed to be effective. Personality also influences the type of leadership power to be applied in pursuit of achieving the objectives of an institution. People who are charismatic and possess unique traits will prefer using referent power on their subordinates even in instances whereby another choice of leadership power is considered to be more appropriate (Bacon, 2011). This will thus, influence the use of inappropriate leadership power, which is likely to result into underachievement or failure of the organization in meeting its set targets.
It is undoubted that leaders require power in order to effectively manage and lead their subordinates towards achieving the goals of the organization. Leadership power enables a leader to influence actions of his or her subjects in order to persuade them to attain the required results. There are different styles of leadership power like coercive power whereby leaders use threats and instill fear in the employees in order to influence them towards accomplishing the assigned tasks as well as following instructions. Reward power on the other hand entails the use of rewards in influencing individuals to be obedient and achieve the set targets by their leaders. Legitimate power is also another type of leadership power that is bestowed upon individuals in the organization based on their positions in order to influence subordinates. Referent power originates from the desire by employees to imitate the qualities of an individual who is seen to be charismatic and has unique traits on how tasks in the organization are done. While the expert power emphasizes on the power that is created by an individual based on his or her special skills in a particular field, informational power defines the power that is achieved by a person due to the valuable information that they hold. There are various factors that impact the choice of leadership power to be used in a particular situation. These factors include motive, a person’s personality, attitude and the target to be achieved.
Bacon, T. (2011). The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence, New York: AMACOM.
Lunenburg, F. (2012). Power and Influence: An Influence Process, international Journal of Management. Business, and Administration, 15(1): 1-9.
Rodney, S. (1997). Leadership, Authority and Power, Mennonite Quarterly Review, 71(3), 15-21.