Formal authority that comes through the leader’s position in the organization-say the CEO – may not always help in influencing others. Two reasons could be stated in support of this.
–Not everyone in today’s organizations passively accepts and implements rules, orders, and instructions coming from the top. Subordinates may resist orders, ignore them, question them, or even quit.
–The CEO cannot influence all individuals – such as customers, government officials, competing managers in rival firms, board of directors etc., through his influence tactics (because he has no formal authority over them). The leader therefore needs to exercise something more than formal authority known as power, to secure compliance and cooperation from others. Here, power may be defined as the potential ability to influence the behaviour of others or represent the resources with which a leader effects changes in employee behaviour.
Power resulting from a leader’s special knowledge or skill regarding the tasks carried out by followers is referred to as expert power. When the leader is a true expert, subordinates go along with recommendations because of his or her superior knowledge. Three conditions are essential to maintain expert power. First, since expert power is based on knowledge and skill, the experts must continue to be perceived as competent; those who become obsolete lose their expert power. The second requirement is to make certain that the organization continues to need the expert’s knowledge and skill. Finally, individuals who are exerting expert power must prevent other experts from replacing them. In short, expert power can be maintained only if there is a critical need for the skills and knowledge of the expert that cannot be conveniently obtained elsewhere.
A leader’s ability to influence others through his personality. Often leaders are able to communicate their vision for the future through a dramatic persuasive manner of speaking. The more the followers admire their leaders and identify with them the more likely they are to accept the leaders’ values and beliefs. This acceptance helps charismatic leaders to exercise great influence over their follower’s behaviours. If they set high standards for themselves subordinates follow their steps religiously. Such leaders as researchers pointed out, are most likely to be effective during periods of organizational crisis or transition. Stressful situations are more likely to encourage employers to repose faith in a leader who seems to steer the ship out of trouble. If the leader’s strategy works and organizational performance improves his power base too will expand dramatically.
Top managers can get others to implement the organization’s strategies by making changes in formal reward systems. Those who carry out the strategy will receive pay raises, bonuses, promotions, etc. Those who support and remain loyal to the leader will assume responsible positions and get away with plum postings. If the leader has a number of rewards under his control, which are valued and desired by subordinates strongly, he will be able to secure cooperation and compliance from subordinates easily.
A manager’s access and control over its distribution, often helps him influence the behaviour of subordinates. The CEO is generally the best informed member of an organization. He is able to oversee everything from the top and he has excellent external contacts to secure as much information as possible. He may not, of course know everything but he usually knows more than anyone else. If the CEO’s information is reliable and complete, no one will be able to question his decisions which is based on a lot of information and knowledge.
A manager who has got many valuable, respectable and useful links possess this type of power, a subordinate who has good public relations and rapport with the officials outside the organization, or elsewhere can also have connection power. A manager or subordinate can influence others who acknowledge the connections they have.
This power is the prerogative of a manager by virtue of his position in the organization. Power is inherent to the position and authority a manager has. In our society people accept the rights the top managers have to direct the organization. They are conditioned to accept the authority of superiors in higher positions. Moreover, managers have control over the distribution of resources and this control earns power for them over others.
The CEO, Manager or the departmental head is empowered by the board and top management to reward or delegate or take disciplinary action against the sub-ordinates working under them. A person reaches a higher position through his knowledge, anticipation of problems, administrative skills and effective communication.