Blog entry by Joanna Webster
Exerting power over the others can influence their behavior either negatively or positively. When leaders use power positively, they can bring progress and avoid organizational conflicts. However, if used negatively, power can cause chaos and conflict between the leaders and the people in an organization or group. This paper discusses the notion of power, its sources, and the relationship between power, influence, and leadership. From its definition, power is the ability that one person has over the others so that he/she can influence their decisions, feelings, or behaviors. There are five different types of power in every organization, team, or group. The first one is the legitimate or positional power. It emanates from the position that a person holds in a group. For instance, a senior manager has the legitimate power over his/her juniors. The expert power is another category which comes from the expertise that a person has in a particular field of knowledge. The decisions and ideas of these people are highly valued by the others. Thus such personalities are essential for progress. The third type is the referent power. People acquire it when the others show them respect. Charismatic people have this kind of power because they attract admiration from those people they relate with. Coercive power is another type which a person attains by using threats and punishments. The last type of power is the reward one. It comes from the leader’s ability to use rewards effectively to motivate the others. It should be mentioned that there is a relationship between power and leadership. Sometimes, any person in charge can employ five sources of power simultaneously to fit a particular situation. For example, legitimate leaders can use reward power to motivate employees to work harder and maximize output. Besides, when the leader has a legitimate power, he/she gets respect he/she deserves. Thus the followers are likely to comply with his/her authority. On the other hand, the same leader can use coercive power to control employees as far as meeting work deadlines are concerned. Leaders should, therefore, use power appropriately to achieve organizational goals as workers are most likely to respond favorably to situations where leaders use power fairly. Thus it is possible to say that an authoritarian leader may employ the use of coercive power, and it will work immediately but destroy relationships and cohesion. At the same time, a democratic or laissez-faire leader can apply five forces concurrently to bring work effectiveness and achieve high organizational results. Moreover, power is the ability to influence people to do things, which call for persuasion.. Therefore, power is closely connected with influence. Influence is psychological and persuasive in nature. Besides, it is a function of power. The more power a person holds, the more influence he/she has over the others. In some instances, there are individuals with no positional or reward power, but they are the best at influencing others to do tasks. A leader who uses coercive power has no influence but uses fear over his/ her juniors to get things done. In its turn, reverent and legitimate power if used well can persuade workers to perform well. Therefore, any leader should aim at learning the art of influencing people to cope with various tasks without fear. In conclusion, although there are different kinds of power such as legitimate, coercive, reward, expert, and reverent, it is closely related with leadership as the leaders employ the various types of power to make workers produce desirable results. Besides, power is connected with influence despite the fact that they are different. Power means that a leader may force people to do things out of fear, but influence is the ability of the leaders to persuade workers to perform. All in all, capacity to convince employees is a psychological act that every person in charge should learn.