Personal Development
The 5 Types of Power Effective Leaders Use - Shiken

The 5 Types of Power Effective Leaders Use - Shiken

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Types of Power

Power is the ability or capacity to act and impose one's will on others. In a work context, the concept of power is interpreted in different ways. Some people receive external power from their assigned titles or positions, while others believe it is something that can be developed internally and manifested externally. The most effective leaders utilize their personal power as well as external power to influence others.

Components of Power

In 1959, researchers French and Raven identified five sources of power: Legitimate Power, Reward Power, Expert Power, Referent Power, and Coercive Power. A powerful leader knows how to use each source of power appropriately when needed. To better understand the five sources of power, let's look at them in more detail.

  • Legitimate Power
  • Reward Power
  • Expert Power
  • Referent Power
  • Coercive Power

Legitimate Power

Legitimate Power is derived from one's title or position, and grants control and authority over others. It is important for leaders to use their power wisely, as unwise use can lead to employee disengagement and burnout.

Reward Power

Reward power is the capacity to offer rewards or benefits to motivate others. Rewards are usually offered in the form of salary raises, benefits, promotions or public praise. When used strategically, reward power can be a great tool to encourage intrinsic motivation among employees and motivate them to produce more. To be effective, rewards should be meaningful and tangible to employees.

Expert Power

Expert power comes from having high levels of knowledge and expertise in a particular area. This gives you the ability to influence and teach others. When leading or teaching a team, using expert power can help to build trust and respect.

Referent Power

Referent power is based on a person's attributes and relationships. It is often tied to a person's charisma, confidence, and likability. Having strong personal relationships gives an individual the ability to influence others in ways that those without strong personal relationships cannot.

Coercive Power

Coercive power is the capacity to influence others through fear or punishment. This type of power is the least effective, since it can lead to mistrust and resistance from employees. To be an effective leader, it is important to understand the five types of power, how each one works, and when to use them.

Using Different Types of Power to Become an Effective Leader

Power is an effective tool for leaders to motivate and drive their team to success. Different types of power can be used in various ways to achieve results, build relationships, and inspire commitment. There are five main types of power and this article will discuss the real-world benefit of each and how they should be used.

1. Legitimate Power

Legitimate power is authority given to a leader based on their title or position. This type of power is often seen as the most effective; however, it depends on the leader having the right kind of power that is meaningful enough to motivate their team and without any powers that they do not possess. It is important to remember that legitimate power is not always as successful as one may think and can have negative consequences. It is best used in combination with other types of power.

2. Expert Power

This type of power is obtained through knowledge and experience which gives the leader credibility and respect from those in the workplace. Leaders who possess this power have the ability to influence colleagues at all levels in the organisation, as well as the capacity to lead the development of both the individual and company. However, an expert leader is aware of the importance of constantly developing their knowledge and skills in order to remain credible.

3. Referent Power

Referent power is the most influential type according to author Nicole Lipkin. This power is obtained through qualities such as honesty, integrity, and excellent interpersonal skills. It is an internal, personal power and cannot be given to someone else. If used correctly, this type of power is less confrontational than other forms and has the ability to motivate those around the leader. As a leader's referent power grows, so will their capacity to influence colleagues.

4. Coercive Power

Coercive power is commonly used in the workplace, but can be the least effective. This type of power is based on making threats or punishing to make others do as desired, even if they do not agree with it. Leaders will often use coercive power to push for innovation or new ideas, or risk the consequences. Unfortunately, this type of power usually creates an environment of fear and mistrust and could lead to employee resentment and alienation.

A Leader's Balance of Power

An effective leader knows how to draw on different types of power depending on the situation at hand. It is therefore important for leaders to understand the different types of power and the most suitable ways to utilize them for the best results for the team and the organisation. A great leader should draw upon a combination of both internal and external power and maintain a balance between genuine authority and influence.

Power and Influence– Developing the Right Skills for Effective Leadership

Coercive power may have short-term effects, but it can also lead to unhappy and unengaged employees which impacts employee retention. It is important for leaders to understand the different types of power and to use them in the right way.

The Five Types of Power

There are five main types of power that effective leaders should be aware of and be able to use in different scenarios. These include coercive power, legitimate power, referent power, expert power, and reward power. Knowing which type of power to use in different contexts is a skill that comes with experience and practice.

Tips for Using the Different Types of Power

Having the ability to use different types of power can help leaders be more successful. Here are some tips on how to use the different types of power effectively:

  • Know your goals - Having a clear understanding of the end goal makes it easier to plan and use the various types of power in the appropriate way.
  • Understand your team - Get to know your team better by having async check-ins, 1-1 meetings, and casual coffee chats.
  • Adapt your leadership style - Different leadership styles support various types of power, so make sure you have a good understanding of each before implementing them.
  • Revise your approach - Be flexible and be open to feedback when using different types of power. If your approach is not working, try another one.

How to Leverage Power and Influence for Success

Power and influence are two different concepts that, when used in the right way, can make a powerful and positive difference in an organization. Power is derived from a leader's position, whereas influence comes from the relationships they have built, as well as their communication and persuasion skills. It is important to exercise power in a judicious way and to use influence to build relationships.

Building a Legacy of Leadership

Great leaders know how to use power and influence in the right way and how to leverage both to be successful. Understanding the difference between the two and learning how to master both canhelp leaders become better at their craft. To accelerate this process, leaders should consider getting a coach that can help them use power and influence effectively.

The Difference between Power and Influence

The ability to influence effectively rests on the establishment of trust between the influencer and the subjects. This is achieved through meaningful conversations, an understanding of their needs and concerns, and joint problem-solving. It is essential to be aware of the interests and motivations of those you are trying to influence for the highest level of effectiveness.

Using Power and Influence to Create a Legacy of Leadership

Power and influence should be leveraged in the right manner to create a successful leadership legacy. Power should be used for decision-making, while influence guides through example and inspiration. Utilizing these two elements effectively to be an admired and respected leader can be challenging but with the help of an expert coach, you can learn how to properly apply them.

Tips for Maximizing Power and Influence

  • Know the distinctions between power and influence.
  • Power is typically based on one's title or role in the organization.
  • Influence is gained through the relationships formed with other people.
  • Use your power positively and constructively to gain respect and trust.
  • Listen to and understand the needs and concerns of those you are influencing.
  • Understand their interests and motivations for better influence.
  • Seek out a coach or mentor to learn how to utilize power and influence effectively.

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