The Application of Power in Organizations

Personal power is power that resides with an individual, regardless of his or her position in the organization. Someone usually exercise personal power through rational persuasion or by playing of followers identifications with him or her. An individual with personal power often can inspire greater loyalty and dedication in followers than someone who has only position power. The stronger influence from the fact that the followers are acting more from choice than from necessity and thus will respond more readily to request and appeals. Of course the influence of a leader who relies only on personal power is limited, because followers may freely decided not to accept his or her directives or orders.

The distinctions between formal and informal leaders are also related to position and personal power. A formal leader will have, at minimum, position power. And an informal leader will similarly have some degree of personal power. Just as a person may be both a formal and an informal leader, he or she can have both position and personal power simultaneously. Indeed such a combination usually has the greatest potential influence on the action of others. An individual with both personal and position power will have the strongest overall power. Likewise, an individual with neither personal nor position power will have the weakest overall power. Finally when either personal or position power is high but the other is low, the individual will have a moderate level or overall power.

Bases of Power in Organizations

Leaders are not automatically endowed an unlimited amount of power over subordinates. Leaders also differ in terms of the sources of bases upon which power over subordinates can be exerted. There are five different powers that affect leadership which include expert power, referent power, legitimate power, reward power and coercive power.

The first base of power is labelled coercive power. The basis of the influence is the fact that one person can punish another. Thus, a subordinates may do what a leader request because the leader has the power to fire the subordinates. Although the threat of punishment may give a leader considerable power over subordinates ,coercive power generally is not a very efficient base of power.

The second power base described by French and Raven is labelled reward power. This is essentially the opposite of coercive power. That is subordinates do what the leader wants because the leader has the ability to reward them in some way. For example, a subordinates may comply with a leader request that he or she work overtime because the leader has the power to grant this employee a larger pay increase when raised are given out.

The third power base is labelled legimate power. This power emanates from the position that one holds in an organization. In most organization settings, the fact that one employee’s is another employee is another employees supervisor means that the supervisor has a legimate right to make request of the other person. Note that this legitimate right is independent of the person holding the position.

The fourth power base is expert power. This is power based on the fact that an individual is perceived as an expert on something to ask a group of subordinates to work on a weekend may bring the group before making the request. When exchange is used as an influence tactics, the leader offers subordinates something in return for complying with the request, or perhaps offers them a share of the benefits that accrue when a task is accomplished.

The fifth is Pressure. This involves the use of demands, threats, or persistent monitoring to make subordinates comply with a request. Suppose a supervisor wants to make sure a subordinates is on time every morning. One way to do this would be check the persons desk to see if he or she is present by the required time. Although pressure may at times get leader the behavior they desire, this almost always comes in the form of compliance on the part of the employee.

The Application of Power in Organizations

Power can be used in many ways in an organization. But because of the potential for its misuse and the concerns that it may engender, it is important that the mangers fully understand the dynamics of using power. In using expert power, managers aware of their education, experience, and accomplishments as they apply to current circumstances. But to maintain credibility, a leader should not pretend to know things that he or she really does not know. A leader whose pretension are exposed will rapidly lose expert power. A confident and decisive leader demonstrate a firm grasp of situations and takes charge when circumstances. Managers should also keep themselves informed about development related to tasks that are valuable to the organization and relevant to their expertise.

A leader who recognizes employee concerns works to understand the underlying nature of these issues and takes appropriate steps to reassure subordinates. For e.g. , if employees feel threatened by rumors that they will lose office space after the next move, the leader might ask them about this concern and then find out just how much office space there will be and tell the subordinates, a leader should be careful not to flaunt expertise or behave like a he know everything.

Suppose a manager has asked subordinates to spend his day finishing an important report. Later, while the manager is out of the office, the manager boss comes and ask the subordinates to drop that project and work on something else. The subordinates will then be in the awkward position of having to choose which of two higher-ranking individuals to obey. Exercising authority regularly will reinforce its presence in the eyes of subordinates. Verifying compliance’s simply means that leaders should find out whether subordinates have carried out their request before giving rewards otherwise subordinates may not recognize the linkage between their performance and subsequent reward. The request that is to be rewarded must be both reasonable and feasible, of course, because even the promise of a reward will not motivate a subordinates who thinks a request should not or cannot be carried out.

The same can be said for a request that seems improper or unethical. Among other things, the follower may see a reward linked to an improper or ethical request. Finally if the leader promises a reward that subordinates know she or he cannot actually deliver , or if they have little use for a reward the manager can deliver, they will not be motivated to carry out the request. Further , they may grow skeptical of the leaders ability to deliver rewards that are worth something to them.

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