This chapter examines the definition of a leader as well as the sources of power. You will acknowledge that leaders can be in either informal or formal organizations. In this case, it would be important to determine how they get to be influential to their subordinates.
In this chapter you will learn what a leader is.
What are the various forms of power that leaders can make use of?
• Coercive power • Legitimate power • Reward power • Charismatic power • Expert power • Information power • Referent power
Who Is A Leader?
A leader is defined as an individual who influences a group of people to act in a certain way in order to attain a certain goal. In this case, leadership is the process by which an individual enlists the support and aid of other people in an effort to accomplish a common goal or purpose. It is the creation of infrastructure for individuals to make contributions towards the attainment of a predetermined goal.
Of course there is leadership that can be defined as effective and ineffective. At this particular juncture, effective leadership would be our main concern as being in a position to influence legions of people is only desirable when it is for the right course.
Effective leadership incorporates the capacity to integrate as well as optimize successfully the use of the resources that are at your disposal whether in the internal or external environment in an effort to attain societal or organizational goals.
Standing out in the midst of many
There are many theories that abide to the aspects of leadership. It is important to acknowledge that leadership does not always have to incorporate formal authority. However, there are the unique powers that an individual must possess in order to be in a position to influence their followers or peers or even be able to control the available resources.
It is important that a leader deemed to be successful incorporate effective use of these powers in order to influence their subordinates or followers. The leaders would have to understand what the utility of power is in order to enhance the strength of their leadership. There are various forms of powers including:
• Coercive power- This is power that an individual derives from their ability to offer punishment to their followers. In most cases, these powers are held by leaders in organizations in which case, they can always suspend their followers, employees or subordinates.
One thing that you can be sure of is that, as much as this power guarantees one a good following; it does not always come with love or respect. In most cases, the subordinates follow the individual not on their own will, volition or incentive but out of fear of reprisal. Many are the times that individuals are loathed when they apply this type of power to their subordinates. However, that does not undermine its utility in ensuring that the goal of an organization is attained or a quality job is done.
• Legitimate power- This type of power is also common within organizational structures only. In this case, an individual will only have as much power as their position in the organization, group or team allows them to. This points at the element of hierarchy in the organization as the higher the position of an individual the more the power they have.
Working together in finding solutions
• Reward power- Also most common in formal organizations or institutions, the power is held by a leader who has the ability to give rewards to individuals under them. In this case, they will be in a position to influence the actions of their subordinates simply because of the carrot they are floating. In most cases, these rewards are awarded to the subordinates who have performed well and could be in the form of promotions or a raise in their pay.
This has the effect of rallying the people around the same goal or purpose though in cases where the reward system is for individuals, you may have individuals pulling in different directions in an effort to outwit each other. As much as it would still get the job done, sometimes it creates conflicts when the reward infrastructure is not deemed to be fair. In this case, it could have the effect of dividing the group instead of uniting them in cases where favoritism is incorporated.
• Charismatic power- This power can be held by individuals in both formal and informal organizations. In this case, the ability of the leader to appeal to the feelings of their followers guarantees them instant loyalty love and even an element of fanaticism.
The leader is in a position to positively influence the followers through their charisma mainly in their speeches. The followers are able to identify with the leader creating an element of interpersonal influence. This can actually be one of the most effective powers in getting the job done. The ability of the leader to tag to the feelings of the followers confers on them a great deal of power.
• Expert power- This could also be in either informal or formal organizations. In this case, the individual holds a semblance of power due to their expertise, abilities, skills, experience, knowledge or abilities. A manager therefore has to be holding some expertise that other people do not have in order to remain relevant as a leader. This leader is always a valuable asset to the organization or society in which they apply their skills and expertise.
• Information power- This is not very different from expert power. However, the leader in this case is in possession of valuable information which would enhance the functioning of the organization or the attainment of the societal goals. One thing that you will note is that this power does not come with hierarchy as individuals in lower echelons of hierarchy could be holding more information power. This does not many it less power. In fact it is recognized as one of the most genuine forms of power as it derives its viability from knowledge.
• Referent power- This form of power is derived from an individual’s association with another. In this case, you will have individuals going by the terms like deputy or assistant. It is not always a very dependable form of power especially as far as influencing people towards a common goal is concerned.