Wednesday, 20 June 2012



  Power is often thought of in terms of domination and control. It is also useful for understanding how the people are able to influence each other in organizations. It involves the capacity of one part (the agent or the leader or the manager) to influence another party (the target or the employee or the worker). Influencing is using two ways through an individual and an organization or a group.
  It is difficult to describe the power of an agent without specifying the target person’s, the influence objectives, and the time period. An agent will have more power over some people than over others and more influences for some types of issues than for others. Power and its source are important factors in leadership effectiveness. The nature and use of power, influence, and authority often determine the effectiveness of the leader.
  An authority has similar meaning with the power. Exactly, it involves the rights, prerogatives, obligations and duties associated with particular positions in organization or social system. For instance, a manager establishes work rules and makes his or her workers obey it.
 It also involves the right of the agent to exercise control over things, such as money, resources, equipment, and materials and this control is another sources of power. the scope of authority for the occupant of a managerial position is the range of requests that can properly be made and the range of actions that can properly be taken. Scope of authority is much greater for some managers than for others and it depends in large part on the influence needed to accomplish recognized role requirements and organizational objectives.


              One useful basis evaluating the success of an influence attempt is whether the immediate outcome is what the manager intended. So that, a manager may achieves the intended effect on the workers. There are three types of outcomes of influence attempts that commitment, compliance and resistance.
              First type is the employees are giving commitment in organization to their leader. The term commitment describes an outcome in which the worker person internally agrees with a decision or request from the manager and makes a great effort to carry out the request or implement the decision effectively. As a worker accepts the manager’s decision, as usual a manager more know about their decision that’s right or wrong.
              Another type is the employees’ compliance to their leader. The term compliance explains an outcome in which the worker is willing to do what the manager asks but is apathetic rather than enthusiastic about it and will make only a minimal effort. For example, a worker does the task that his or her manager asks only a little bit immediately.
             The last one is the resistance of employees to their leader. This type has six ways whether finishing it or not. They can refuse to carry out the request. They also can make excuses about why the request that their do not want. Sometimes, they try to persuade the manager to withdraw or change the request. There is also the workers ask higher authorities to overrule the manager’s request. We also ever see that the workers delay acting in the hope who is the manager will forget about this. The last one, they make a pretense of complying but try to sabotage the task. For instance, a worker is no respond to do the task.


              The influence processes are qualitatively different from each other, but more than one process may occur at the same time. Kelman (1958) proposed three different types of influence processes, called instrumental compliance, internalization and personal identification. For example, a follower become an active, hardworking and good person to finish a task proposed by the leader, because they feel comfortable and give a full cooperation to do it and also they share similar attitudes.
              The most and foremost, instrumental compliance that the followers carry out a requested action for the purpose of obtaining a tangible reward or avoiding a punishment controlled by the leader.
              While the internalization also can be seen through the followers become committed to support and implement proposals espoused by the leader because they appear to be intrinsically desirable and correct in relation to the follower’s values, beliefs, and self image. The proposals are objectives, plans, strategies, policies and procedures.
              Lastly, personal identification showed the followers imitate the leader’s behavior or adopt the same attitudes to please the leader and to be like the leader. Maintaining a close relationship with an attractive leader may help to satisfy the followers need for esteem from other people and becoming more like an attractive leader helps the followers maintain a more favorable self-image.


              All the types of power strengthen your ability to face any situation and respond in a way that helps create the outcomes you desire. John French (1993) presented four sources from which a leader might acquire power. Quite clearly, one source is the position held (legitimate or position power). A leader has legal power that is vested in his/her position, or role, in the organizational hierarchy.
              Another source of power is personality of the leader (referent or personality power). Many leaders are able to influence followers from the strength of their personality. This type of power is also referred to as charismatic power.
              A third source of leader power is known as reward power. Leaders have the ability to control and administer punishment to subordinates for noncompliance with the leader’s directives or to reward selected behavior. In such instances, the leader is using reward power.
              Finally, there is expert power, which is derived from the special ability and or knowledge possessed by the leader and needed by followers. In many instances, the manner in which a leader exerts his/her power and authority determines his/her effectiveness. Followers in the organization grant power to the leader (by shared agreement) as they accept his/her influence and directions. Individuals in a higher position also grant power to the leader as they assign tasks and share responsibility. These two sources build on one another. As one gets stronger, the other is likely to get stronger. However, the reverse is also true; as one gets weaker, so does the other. The power of the leader is likely to be most effective when he/she uses a combination of legitimate and referent power to facilitate inquiry, mastery, and collaboration   (Fullan, 1993).
              But, mostly of us learned and knew more the types of power is based on French and Raven (1959) that they developed a taxonomy to classify different types of power according to their sources. This taxonomy includes five types of power. There are legitimate power, referent power, expert power, reward power and coercive power. We will explain  these types one by one clearly.
              First type of power based on them is legitimate power. It also called ‘positional power’; it refers to power of an individual because of the relative position and duties of the holder of the position within an organization. Power stemming from formal authority over work activity and the influence processes associated with this power. It is usually accompanied by various attributes of power such as uniform, offices etc. This is the most obvious and also the most important kind of power. For examples, the followers comply because they believe the leader has the right to make the request and the followers have the obligation to comply such as the leader has holding the post like the Prime Minister.
              Secondly is referent power that means is derived from the desire of others to please the leader toward whom they have strong feelings of affection, admiration and loyalty. People are usually willing to do special favors for a friend, and they are more likely to carry out requests made by someone they greatly admire. The strongest form of referent power involves the influence process called personal identification. This is based on the charisma and interpersonal skills of the power holder. Follower maybe admired because of specific personal trait. For examples, the follower complies because the follower admired or identifies with the leader and wants to gain the leader’s approval such as, the leader has the charisma and own skills and also has good attitude in leadership.
              Third kind of power is expert power that means is an individual’s power deriving from the skills or expertise of the person or leaders and the organization’s needs for those skills and expertise. This expert power is usually highly specific and limited to the particular area in which the expert is qualified. For example, the followers comply because they believe that the leaders have special knowledge about the best way to do something. Unique knowledge about the best way to perform a task or solve an important problem provides potential influence over subordinates, peers, and superiors. However, expertise is a source of power only is dependent on the leader for advice. The more important a problem is to the follower, the greater the power derived by the leader fro possessing the necessary expertise to solve it. Dependency is increase when the follower cannot easily find another source of advice besides the leader.    
            Fourthly, the reward power is the perception by the follower that a leader controls important resources and rewards desired by the follower. Reward power stems in part from formal authority to allocate resources and rewards. This authority varies greatly across organization. More control over scarce resources is usually authorized for high-level managers. Reward power depends not only on a manager’s actual control over resources and rewards, but also on the follower’s perception that the leader has the capacity and willingness to follow through on promises. An attempt to use reward power to be unsuccessful if the leader lacks credibility as a sources of resources and rewards. Managers usually have much more reward power over subordinates than over peers or superiors. One form of reward power over subordinates is the authority to give pay increases, bonuses, or other economic incentives to deserving subordinates. This power is obvious but also ineffective if abused like give the bribe to others. Follower who abuse reward power can become pushy. For example, the follower complies in order to obtain reward controlled by the leader.
              Lastly, the types of power based on French and Raven is coercive power. A leader’s coercive power over subordinates is based on authority over punishments, which varies greatly across different types of organizations. It might refer to the ability to demote other reward. Coercive power tends to be most obvious but least effective from of power. For example, the follower complies in order to avoid punishment controlled by the leader. Coercive power also is invoked by a threat or warning that the follower will suffer undesirable consequence for noncompliance with a request, rule, or policy. The threat may be explicit, or it may be only a vague comment that the person will be sorry for failing to do what the follower wants. Sometimes it is necessary to establish credibility by demonstrating the will and ability to cause unpleasant consequence for the follower. However, even a credible threat may be unsuccessful if the follower refuses to be intimidated or believes that the way can be found to avoid compliance without being detected by the leader. It is the best avoid using coercion except when absolutely necessary, because it is difficult to use and likely to result in undesirable side effects.
                      Another conceptualization of power sources is also control over information power. This type of power based on (Pettigrew, 1972). Some access to information results from a person’s position in the organization’s communication network. Managerial positions often provide opportunities to obtain information that is not directly available to subordinates or peers. Boundary role position like marketing, purchasing, public relations provide access to important information about events in the external environment of an organization. However, it is not merely a matter of occupying a particular position and having information appear as if by magic; a person must be actively involved in cultivating a network of information sources and gathering information from them.
              Control over the physical environment, technology, and organization of the work provides an opportunity for indirect influence over other people. Because behavior is determined in part by perception of opportunities and constraints, it can be altered in subtle ways by rearranging the situation. This form of influence is sometimes called situational engineering or ecological power. One form this power is to modify the design of subordinate motivation. Research on job enrichment suggests that significant improvements in work quality and job satisfaction are sometimes possible. The organization of work activities and design of formal structure is another form of situational engineering. The grouping of activities into subunits, determination of reporting relationships and design of information systems are all sources of influence over employee behavior.              

              Power is not a static condition. It changes over time due to changing conditions and the actions of individuals and coalitions. How power is acquired or lost can be described by two theories.
              The first one is social exchange theory which explains how power is gained and lost as reciprocal influence processes occur over time between agents and targets in small groups. Exactly, social interaction is an exchange of benefits or favors. It can include not only material benefits, but also psychological benefits like expressions of approval, respect, esteem and affection. For example, the theory does not explain how reciprocal influence processes affect an agent’s reward and referent power. The supporting evidence for the theory was found in research with small groups in a laboratory setting, but longitudinal field research is needed on social exchange processes for agents in large organizations to verify that the process is the same.
              The second one also the last is strategic contingencies theory which explains the acquisition and loss of power by different subunits of an organization and the implications of this power distribution for the effectiveness of the organization in a changing environment. This theory postulates that the power of a subunit depends on three factors. Its expertise in coping with important problems. Another one that centrality of the sub unit within the workflow. While the extent to which the subunit’s expertise is unique rather than substitutable. 
              Although the two theories focus on power processes at different levels of analysis, they share many similar features and appear mostly compatible. Both theories emphasize the importance of demonstrated expertise for the acquisition of authority.

               For a conclusion, power is the capacity to influence the attitudes and behavior of people in the desired direction. The amount of position power necessary for leader effectiveness depends on the nature of the organization, task, and subordinators. Why the personal power show the success of a manager depends greatly on the manner in which power in exercised. Effective leader are likely to use power in a subtle, fashion that minimizes status differential and avoids traits to the target person’s cell-esteem. Position and personal determinants of power interact in complex ways, and sometime it is difficult to distinguish between them. In contrast, leaders who exercise power in an arrogant, manipulative, domineering manner are rightly to engender resistance. All of power must have the leader, the follower, and the situation.


1)      Find Your Power. Dr Chris Johnstone. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London- Boston. 2006.
2)      Practicing The Art of Leadership. Reginald Leon Green. Merrill Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Columbus, Ohio. 2001.
3)      Leadership in Organizations (sixth edition). Gary Yukl. University at Albany, State University of New York.

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