If the three bases of formal power (coercive, rewards, legitimate) and two bases of personal power (expert, referent), which is most important to have? Interestingly, research suggests pretty clearly that the personal sources of power are most effective. Both expert and referent power are positively related to employees’ satisfaction with supervision, their organizational commitment, and their performance, whereas reward and legitimate power seem to be unrelated to these outcomes. Moreover, one source of formal power coercive power actually can back fire in that it is negatively related to employee satisfaction and commitment.
Consider Steve Stoute’s company. Translation which matches pop-star spokespersons with corporations that want to promote their brands. Stoute has paired Gwen Stefani with H P Justine Timberlake with McDonald’s. Beyonce Knolwes with Tommy Hilfiger and Jay-Z with Reebok. Stoute’s business seems to be all about referent power as one record company executive commented when reflected on Stoute’s successes. He is the right guy of guiding brands in using the record industry to reach youth culture in a credible way. In other words, using pop stars to market products because of referent power people buy products associated with cool figures because they wish to identify with these figures and emulate them.
Legitimate Power: In formal groups and organizations, probably the most frequent access to one or more of the power bases is one’s structural position. This is called legitimate power. It represents the formal authority to control and use organizational resources.
Positions of authority include coercive and reward powers. Legitimate power, however, is broader than the power to coerce and reward. Specifically, it includes acceptance by members in an organization of the authority of a position. When school principals, bank presidents, or army captains speak (assuming that their directives are viewed to be within the authority of their positions) teachers, tellers and first lieutenants listen and usually comply.
You don’t have to have a formal position in an organization to have power. Many of the most competent and productive chip designers at Intel, for instance, have power, but they aren’t managers and have no formal power. What they have is personal power – power that comes from an individual’s unique characteristics. In this article, we look at two bases of personal power expertise and the respect and admiration of others.
Expert power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skill or knowledge. Expertise has become one of the most powerful sources of influence as the world has become more technologically oriented. As jobs become more specialized we become increasingly dependent on experts to achieve goals. So, although is generally acknowledged that physicians have expertise and hence expert power most of us follow their advice that our doctor gives us – you should also recognize that computer specialists are able to wield power as a result of their expertise.
Referent Power: Referent power is based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits. If I like, respect and admire you, you can exercise power over me because I want to please you.
Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that person. It helps explain, for instance why celebrities are paid millions of dollars to endorse products in commercial Marketing research shows that people like LeBron James and Tom Brady has the power to influence your choice of athletic shoes and credit cards. With a little practice you and I could probably deliver as smooth a sales pitch as these celebrities, but the buying public doesn’t identify with you and me. One of the ways in which individuals acquire referent power is through charisma. Some people have referent power who while not in formal leadership positions, nevertheless are able to exert influence over others because of their charismatic dynamism likeability and emotional effects on us.