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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Types of Leadership Power


Leadership and power work together to influence organizational affairs and individuals who work within these organizations. According to Goncalves (2013) future leaders will need to understand how to define their leadership style, use that leadership style in alignment with existing organizational contexts, be able to tell stories that create a vision, and tap into their imaginations to find solutions. This leadership is defined by the necessity of developing a stronger management platform for a more complex world.

The use of power can be legitimate or illegitimate. In general, legitimate power supports a governing system in the betterment of a wider group of people. Illegitimate power focuses more on self-serving ends outside of a proper governing system. Generally these are established through culture and governing laws. In the case of the workplace such power should be used to influence people to fulfill organizational objectives in ways that are fair and appropriate. When such power is overly coercive it can detract from the organizational mission and from the governing system itself.

There are seven forms of power that are used to create influence:

Legitimate Power: The power of a formal position.

Expert Power: Knowledge based power.

Coercive Power: The power of fear.

Reward Power: The ability to give or take away awards.

Referent Power: The power of knowing and referring to powerful people.

Information Power: It is the power that comes from the use of information.

Each of these power sources has the ability to influence some situations but can lack effectiveness in other situations. For example, reward power can encourage higher levels of performance but coercive power might be more effective in chaotic situations. Referent power may get you a job but expert power is more effective in performance. When and where to use each of these powers is dependent on the situation and context of the environment.

Understanding the different types of power used within organization and the preferred power of the leader helps to understand better methods of not only gaining power within organizations but also how to manage the organization itself. Relying too heavily on one type can limit the ability of the organization to create different types of pressures and rewards to ensure the highest amount of performance. Power is not necessarily a bad or good thing but is a natural part of living in a social world. Some are more egalitarian than others but ultimately each can be used appropriately to maintain forward momentum.


Goncalves, M. (2013). Leadership styles: the power to influence others. Journal of Business & Social Science, 4 (4).


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