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Leadership And Power

Do we need power to lead?

The answer can draw mixed results, but most leaders use their power to lead. Power is necessary for leadership because people will likely not follow a leader who does not exert some form of power.

Having the power to affect, influence and guide others creates compliance, and leaders can wield this power for better or worse. At best, leadership power is used to drive positive change and create success, which helps organizations develop and thrive for the road ahead.

Leaders are responsible for making decisions affecting organizations and employees and ensuring success; outstanding leadership requires a combination of qualities. All leaders share fundamental characteristics, including effective communication, self-confidence, honesty and integrity, a big-picture vision, and many more.

Over the years, several types of power have been studied, some with positive attributes and others with negative points. Different types of power have varying levels of effectiveness, which depend on the circumstances and the people involved. All leaders demonstrate at least one of these types at any time.

Formal types of power can include coercive, reward and legitimate power.

Coercive Power: This type of power involves forcing people to do something using threat or force, leading people to act out of fear of negative consequences. However, this power can be deemed necessary in extreme situations. If you want to look at this from a positive perspective, this power sets high expectations and can encourage innovation when working with limited resources, such as in emergencies. However, this type of power is most often abused.

Reward Power: This is considered the opposite of coercive power and encourages compliance through incentives and should be attainable for employees to strive for them. This can be bonuses, holidays, flextime, and study breaks.

Legitimate Power: This is linked to the hierarchical structures that are in place within an organization. CEOs, managers, and supervisors all hold legitimate power. They can only be effective if an individual remains in this formal relationship because the power is linked to the position in the company rather than the individual.

Personal power is intrinsic to the person and is related to reputation rather than the position held in the company, and it can include referent, expert, and informational power.

Referent Power: This power relates to role models. When people identify with a leader, they inspire, respect and can influence others. Leaders who wield referent power create admiration in their followers.

Expert Power: This type of power is created when a leader holds specific skills others do not possess, leading others to seek guidance and creating a sense of trust and respect. This type of power is independent of an individual’s position and must be used appropriately in driving change and increasing success.

Informational Power: It is often said that knowledge is power. This is gained when a leader control who has access to certain types of information and only holds it while information is secure.

As a leader, it is essential to differentiate between different types of power and be aware of your strengths and how best to apply them within the organization. In this way, leaders can identify which types of power would be helpful in each situation to achieve the best overall outcome for the organization and employees.

A good leader seeks to consistently improve their leadership skills and adapt to using the type of power required by the situation and achieve the best results for the organization for the road ahead.


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