When is coercive power necessary?
Coercive power is the ability to control others through the fear of punishment or the loss of valued outcomes (PSU WC, 2014, L. 7). A few examples of coercive power in an organization are termination, demotion, revoking privileges, or suspension. The use of coercive power seems to be a bit extreme, but in some cases it may be necessary. There are a number of different scenarios in which coercive power is effective in the workplace.
If any employee is being defiant, consistently late, or constantly taking time off, then coercive power can be used to threaten the employees. Leaders could threaten to dock pay or even refuse to pay the employee for the time that they took off. Any type of insubordination could be stopped early on with the implementation of coercive power.
Organizations that have their own policies and regulations could use coercive power to ensure that their employees are following their rules. Coercive power aids in the demand of compliance to the organizations protocol for new and veteran employees. If a company is undergoing any changes then coercive power could deter any resistance from employees.
Coercive power is also effective when preventing harassment in the workplace. The threat of termination or a civil lawsuit as a punishment helps to reinforce harassment policies set in place by the organization.
Coercive power gives a leader control over what is happening in their organization. It maintains employee discipline, enforces organization policies, and maintains a harassment free environment. At times, punishment, or even the threat of punishment is necessary to establish a successful, incident free organization.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2014). Leadership in work settings. PSYCH 485. Retrieved from: