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What are the different Sources of Power?

Power, however used, does not arise spontaneously or mysteriously. It comes from specific and identifiable sources. The two major types of power, based on their sources, are position powers and personal powers. Position power is based on a manager’s rank in an organisation. Personal power is based on a person’s individual characteristics.

1. POSITION POWERS The powers associated with a position include legitimate power, reward power, and coercive power.

Reward Power: One of the strongest sources of position power for any manager is reward power, that is, the authority to distribute rewards, especially differing amounts of highly valued rewards to different people. This power can have significant effects on others’ behavior because it involves dispensing relatively scarce, but desired, resources. Only a few people, at most, can receive plum assignments; only one or two subordinates usually can be given the largest yearly performance bonus; only one person can be awarded the promotion. One positive aspect of rewards is that they have a “signaling” effect.

Legitimate power: Legitimate Power is a type of position power granted to a person such as manager. It is sometimes called formal authority. In the work setting, legitimate power is intended to give a manager the right to expect compliance by his or her employees. It allows the manager to start or stop actions.

Coercive Power: Coercive power is the power to administer punishments, either by withholding something desired or by giving out something that is not desired, such as a letter of reprimand. In typical organisations, such power is used sparingly these days, at least directly and overtly. However, coercive power is sometimes used indirectly in the form of implied threats, which generate retaliation.

2. PERSONAL POWERS Personal powers are attached to a person and stay with that individual regardless of the position or the organisation. For those who want to be leaders, personal powers are especially valuable because they do not depend directly or only on the actions of others or of the organisation. In effect, they enhance the ability of the manager to use persuasion. The two major types are expert power and referent power.

Expert Power: Expert power is based on specialised knowledge not readily available to many people. It is a potential source of power because other people depend on, or need advice from, those who have that expertise. The best example of expert power in everyday life is the physician–patient relationship. Most people follow their doctor’s directives not because of any formal.

Referent Power: When people are attracted to, or identify with, someone, that person acquires what is called referent power. This power is gained because other people “refer” to that person. They want to please that person or in some way receive acceptance. Referent power often can be recognised by its subtle occurrences.

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