Five Bases of Power

The concepts of leadership and power are tightly connected to each other. People are affected by leaders and tend to follow those who have the power. Leaders have their power under different circumstances and for different reasons. For example, some people are leaders because they have the ability to give their followers bonuses or raises. Others become leaders because they have a strong power to motivate people for accomplishing different tasks, even those which are difficult. In addition, leaders also may have a power because they are real experts and have a high level of awareness in their fields. This paper discusses the types of power which leaders may have, and what are the peculiarities of each type of power.

Power means the possession of authority and influence of a person over the others. Power is an instrument by means of which positive or negative results within the organizations can be achieved dependently on how a certain type of power is applied. Power is divided on two types: position power and personal power.

Position power is the authority which a person obtains in accordance with the rank he or she has in the certain organizational hierarchy. Such authority may be given to a person by the higher authorities, popular choice or according to the principle of heredity. The source of the positional power is the organization a person belongs to, but not his or her personal traits which give the ability to be a leader.

Personal power is the authority which is obtained by a person due to his or her personal traits and social skills which allow them to affect others by means of connection on mental, psychological and emotional levels. Such ability to influence others is called magnetic personality or charisma. Such people are able to inspire and motivate people by their words and energy so that they will accomplish their leaders goals. As opposite to the positional power, personal one may be easily obtained as the appropriate personal traits may be easily developed.

Talking about the leadership approaches which are applied in these above mentioned types of power, having position power means being a manager, and having personal power prescribes to be a coach.

Personal and positional powers include several types. Thus, positional power includes al follows:

Legitimate power (also known as official power). This type of positional power comes from the higher authority. Within the organization, a manager receives his or her power due to the post he/ she holds. This type of power gives plenary to reward or punish others. Legitimate power cannot be regarded as the most stable and predictable. If a person loses the post or the title, their authority and power will also disappear instantly because others are subordinated to the position, but not a person who holds this position. In addition, legitimate power gives quite limited range of the authority. For example, in a certain organization, a chief of the sales department cannot command and control the employees from the HR department, as they have their own chief whom they are listening to. Therefore, it is not enough to have only legitimate power in order to be a real leader. It should be remembered that relying on the legitimate power does not make a person really able to have an absolute influence on others. In real life situations, people may become leaders even in case if they do not have the legitimate power at all.

Reward power. This type of power means that a leader influences people providing them with rewards for the accomplishment of corporative or leaders personal goals. These rewards may include giving bonuses, raises extra time off from work, extra vacations, etc. Reward power relies on the fact that if a leader encourages people to do something promising them a good reward, the probability that they accomplish their tasks is very high. However, reward power is not reliable enough because it is very difficult for one person to control the system of providing rewards on their own. In addition, when a leader uses the system of rewards, these rewards may not be perceived as valuable and motivating by others. In this case, the leaders power weakens. Moreover, these bonuses and rewards should become bigger each time in order to maintain the same motivating impact. Another problem which reward power may have is that the rewards may distract employees attention from their direct job duties and make them focused only on the rewards. Finally, people may become satiated by the rewards, and the reward power will lose its effectiveness.

Coercive power. This type of power is maintained by the fear of losing ones job or status. Coercive power is based on threatening others. This type of power is regarded as one of the most problematic and may be the subject to abuse which may lead to unhealthy atmosphere, inappropriate behavior and dissatisfaction by the work place. Threats and punishment, as the rule, are the main instruments of coercion. Within the organization, the main threatening perspectives are penalties, firing, demoting, denying privileges, or assigning undesirable tasks. Yet, the leader whose leadership is grounded on coercive power may not have the will to apply the above mentioned measures in practice. However, this type of power is widespread within the organizations. It can be stated with certainty that such leadership style will lead to excessively cold and tensed relations between the leader and employees, as well as lack of confidence and unfriendly atmosphere within the organization.

Personal power includes the following types:

Referent power. This type of power is based on employees respect to the leader and their desire to identify themselves with- or look like him or her. When a leader uses the referent power, employees may not realize that they are modeling his/ her behavior and actions. Employees often act in accordance with their presuming of what their leaders would do in the certain situations. The leaders whose personal traits allow them to influence people by their personal examples are considered charismatic leaders. Referent power may be a great responsibility because a person does not need to do anything special in order to obtain it. Thus, it may be easily abused. The charismatic leader who is admired by others is not honest may use power in order to hurt people and achieve personal benefits. Being relied only on the referent power is not a good strategy for the leaders who want their leadership and respect for a long time. Moreover, it is easy to train personal traits which make an individual a charismatic leader, thus, if a person does not have anything else besides his personal leadership traits, it will be very difficult for him or her to survive in the conditions of high competitive struggle.

Expert power. This type of power is grounded on the employees belief that their leader has the high level of awareness, deep knowledge and highly developed skills in the defined spheres. In expert power, a leader may not differ from others and be higher than the others based to their formal position. Expert power does not require having positional power compulsorily. If a person has knowledge and skills which enable him or her to understand a situation better than others, propose wise solutions, and use solid judgments, people would rather prefer to listen to this person, respect what he or she says, and highly evaluate his/ her ideas. Yet, expert power has its weaknesses. For example, the expert power decreases as the knowledge is shared within the group. If a leader shares the knowledge or skill instructions with others, they will be able to do something without their leaders guidance next time because they will have already obtained the necessary knowledge or skills. Therefore, as the employees level of awareness grows to the level of their leader; the respect of employees for his or her superiority will decrease. However, the leader may decide not to share the knowledge with others. There is one more type of power which refers neither to positional nor personal types of power, but may include the elements of both these types. This type of power is called multidimensional. It may include different combinations of the above mentioned types of power dependently on the cultural and other specific aspects of the organizational structure and relations within the organization. Thus, multidimensional power may include different leadership styles, which could be applied in the certain situation and for the certain personnel. It cannot be stated with certainty that if one leadership style is effective in one organization, it can be similarly effective in another one. Hence, the types of power should be chosen and combined in accordance with the peculiarities and specifications of a certain organization or group. That is why multidimensional power is considered the most effective.

Talking about the types of the power, attribute power should also be considered in this paper. The concept of attribute may include some qualities, characteristic traits or features which a person may demonstrate or has the possibility to demonstrate. Knowledge and skills, viewpoints and opinions, physical form, material possessions, social status and position, and interpersonal relationships all the above mentioned aspects are the categories of personal attributes which a person may possess and use. Attribute power is based on a persons ability to apply one or more attributes in order to influence the actions and behavior of other people. The main aspect of attribute power is in the fact that people and organizations want to associate or interact with individuals who have significant attributes in order to be able to get benefit from them. Attribute power may be exhibited in two ways. Firstly, attribute power may be exhibited by means of a persons recognizing that expertise influences the thinking of others. A specialist with the high level of awareness in any sphere attracts the attention of other people, and when he or she demonstrates the high level of proficiency and qualification, it evokes trust and respect in others. A person who is, for example, an outstanding doctor, businessman, politician, scientist, teacher or any other highly qualified professional in any other sphere who has visibly demonstrated his or her high level of professionalism in a certain sphere is very likely to affect other people in terms of what they believe in and what approach they have concerning the issues relating to that sphere. Such people are as usual regarded as the leaders. The other way in which an individual may implement his or her attribute power is concluded in defining the conditions or circumstances under which they will be able to share their desirable attributes with other people. One of the most significant advantages of having attribute power is that a person may use it in order to make others to willingly provide a leader with the things a leader wants or help a leader achieve his or her goals in exchange for his or her allowing to access to their attribute or the set of attributes.

In order to be an effective leader, a person should observe the balance of the above mentioned powers. It is very difficult to influence other people effectively if a persons personal power lies only in one domain. Position power is given to a leader and may be effective for a certain period of time, but it is quite hard for a person to be appropriately effective if he or she relies only on positional power. In some cases it is necessary for a leader to exhibit a high level of knowledge and skills development in accordance with his or her position of authority. In addition, people will not follow the leader who does not demonstrate some emotional or psychological connection with them. Attribute power is a great source of personal power. Many significant attributes, such as physical form and attractive appearance, material possessions and personal relationships, can disappear or decrease over time. When attribute power is the only thing a leader has, and when the attributes on which the attribute power has been based disappear, the person stays with nothing left. When a person combines the types of power in his or her leadership style, he or she will be more successful and sustainable leader.

To conclude, this paper discusses all the aspects of personal and positional power and explains which strategy a leader should use in order to be successful and for his/ her leadership to be continuous and effective. For this purpose, a leader should examine the environment and all the peculiarities of the atmosphere in his organization or group. He or she needs to take into consideration a lot of factors in order to choose which types of power should be applied within the certain organization. A leader should always remember that he or she should not rely on any of the above mentioned type choosing only one of them. These types should be used in combination, and a wise leader should understand how it would be better to combine these types of power in order to be maximally effective and respected within his or her team. Therefore, this paper may be a good handout for those who search the reliable and comprehensive information on the bases of power and leadership styles, as it highlights all the necessary aspects, peculiarities, and strong and weak sides of the types of power. Nevertheless, any of them cannot be strong enough to be used solely. Only the complex approach may be effective.