Individuals with varying degrees of influence form the foundation of organizations. Authority can come from a person’s position or through particular knowledge and skill. Others may wield power due to their interpersonal relationships. There are five types of power, which are legitimate power, expert power, referent power, coercive power, and reward power. Each of these types uses different sources of power and has different nature.
Legitimate power is the most constructive use of authority a leader can make most of the time. This is because this form of power is generated from a person’s position in an organization’s hierarchy. A higher position typically gains greater experience, knowledge, and understanding of work processes. Junior workers must report to superiors, and managers have the authority to assign duties to their juniors according to job specifications.
Expert power, the next type of power, is generated from having knowledge or competence in a specific field. Organizations reward these individuals for their problem-solving abilities. People with expert authority are held in high respect by other employees, and their thoughts, ideas, and judgments have a significant impact on their activities. Expert power is frequently used as a stepping stone to other forms of authority, such as lawful power.
Next, referent power is obtained from a person’s interpersonal relationships with other organization members. Referent power is derived from charisma, as a charismatic person can influence others by their admiration, respect, and trust for her. Personal ties with senior persons in the organization’s hierarchy, such as the CEO, also contribute to referent power. One’s ability to control others is based on their sense of relationships.
The next type, coercive power, is derived from a person’s ability to sway others through threats, punishments, or sanctions. To avoid disciplinary action from his supervisor, a junior employee may labor late to accomplish a deadline. A person’s ability to discipline, terminate, or censure another employee is coercive power. Employee conduct can be controlled via coercive power, ensuring that employees follow the organization’s regulations and standards.
Finally, the ability of a person to influence the allocation of incentives in an organization is known as reward power. Salary increases and good evaluations are examples of these incentives. People with reward power in an organization tend to influence the actions of other employees. When applied correctly, reward power can substantially drive staff. On the other hand, reward power can demoralize staff and reduce performance if used in a favoritism manner.