Bases of Power
Leadership is based on having power to influence others. Leaders use various methods to influence their followers. This are referred to as bases of power. Therefore, power is the ability to perform a task or influence others to perform it. The bases of power include referent, reward, legitimate, expert, and coercive power. The individual possessing the power exercises it over target persons in order to achieve a set goal. This may be organizational or individual goals (Dubrin, 2011).
Firstly, expert power is based on skills and knowledge possessed by an employee whom others do not have. Therefore, this employee influences others either because they believe that he knows the best way to perform a task, or because they do not have an alternative. In a corporation A, employee 2 is the only certified public accountant and able to prepare the company’s financial statements. Therefore, employee 2 uses this power to compromise the accounting manager to give in to his /her request to work for few hours. Therefore, influences the accounting manager to grant few working hours (Winkler, 2009).
Secondly, the other base of power is reward power. Individuals possess this power when they can influence rewards or manipulate allocation of available resources. The follower complies with the demands of the person in control of resources so as to receive rewards. The aim of using this power is to influence the follower to work hard for the rewards or escape the punishments. In a corporation A, the marketing manager uses the yearly bonus scheme to encourage workers to work hard. Therefore, he has rewarding power. This power drives employee 1 to complete task accurately and in time with a goal of receiving the yearly bonus (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006).
Thirdly, legitimate power is possessed by individuals because of their position in authority. Individuals in management positions make crucial decisions and have authority to give directions to other employees. Therefore, such individuals have legitimate power. For example, the accounting manager in a corporation A authorizes employee 2 to work for fewer hours in a week. He possesses this power because he/she is in charge of the accounting department and has legitimate power over the subordinate accountants. In addition, he/she makes decisions regarding working hours of employees (Dubrin, 2011).
The Fourth base of power is referent power. Individuals with attractive personality possess referent power. In this case, the target persons admire, identify or want to get approval from them. In addition, they may assimilate the way of doing things adopted by the individual possessing this power. Charismatic leaders possess this power to influence others. In a corporation A, employee 3 is liked by the other employees. Therefore, employee 3 can influence other employees. In addition, the management made employee 3 the team leader in their sales team. This aims at utilizing employee 3’s referent power to control others in the sales team (Koontz & Weihrich, 2006).
Lastly, coercive power is exercised by individuals who have the responsibility of administering disciplinary measures such as demotion or punishments. Mostly, it is used to induce fear of punishment to subordinates; this makes them comply for fear of being punished (Winkler, 2009).
Dependency Relation of Power
The dependency theory of power suggests that if A is dependent on B, then B has power over A. The dependency lies in resources that the B controls, but a needs them. In this case, a resource must meet the conditions of economic resources (scarce, non substitutable, and important). Therefore, power can only be exercised where there is a dependency relationship between two parties (Scott, 2001).
People do not resist to attempts of influence by others because of the fact that there is a dependency relationship between them. However, the level of dependency determines the level of influence. For example, in a corporation A, employee 1 needs more money in order to have a fabulous vacation, therefore, has to work for the bonus. On the other hand, the marketing manager is in charge of the bonus scheme; therefore, has influence on employee 1. In this case, the employee 1 is dependent on the marketing manager for approval, while the marketing manager has power. Moreover, employee 2 has the expertise required by the company; therefore, has influence on the accounting manager. Therefore, has power over the accounting manager. In the other hand, the accounting manager is dependent on employee 2 (Scott, 2001).
The exercise of power is not restricted to unilateral act, but individuals may exercise power over each other. For example, in a corporation A, the management has the right to manage the corporation and has control over resources such as job, while the employees in the corporation control the labor resource. Since each of the party control some useful resource needed by the other, there exist a dependency for both parties. This signifies the reciprocal use of power. However, extend to which one party exercise power over the other is dependent on their degree of dependency. For example, employee 2 has much influence over the accounting manager because no other person competent to prepare financial statements of the company. However, where there is power balance, both parties may have a greater bargaining power over the other and tend to cooperate (Scott, 2001).
Dubrin, A. J. (2011). Essentials of management. USA: Cengage learning.
Koontz, H. &Weihrich, H. (2006). Essentials of management. New Delhi: Tata McGraw.
Scott, J. (2001). Power: Critical concepts. New York: Routledge.
Winkler, I. (2009). Contemporary leadership theories: enhancing the understanding of the
complexity, subjectivity and dynamic of leadership. London: Springer.