Power is the capacity or potential to influence (Northouse, 2016). Power is prevalent when people have the ability to affect one’s actions. In the workplace, the person with the most power would likely be the manager of the business. There are attributes within each person that could allow them to have some sort of power over the next person. Positional power can be removed. Position power is the power a person drives from a particular office or rank in a formal organizational system (Northouse, 2016). Unlike personal power, positional power can be taken away.
Legitimate power is associated with having status or formal job authority (Northouse, 2016). In my current profession, I am the Superintendent of my Squadron and I have positional power over the employees within my Squadron. I have a higher status than the lower ranking employees and I am able to direct them to complete a task. Those employees do not have positional power over me so they would be out of line if they tried to direct me to complete a task. The Squadron Commander is my supervisor and he has positional power over me. He also has legitimate power because he is responsible for the entire Squadron and he has authority to make decisions regarding all of his employees.
Reward power is derived from having the capacity to provide rewards to others (Northouse, 2016). Employees are nominated each quarter to be recognized for doing good work within that time period. If they win they will be given a day off. They are being rewarded for their hard work. Being rewarded for the hard work will motivate the employees to keep up the good work. For those employees that are not getting rewarded, it will motivate them to step-up their performance so that they can be rewarded also. Leaders often give to their employees when they meet their goals. Positive reinforcement will promote that good behavior.
Coercive power is derived from having the capacity to penalize or punish others (Northouse, 2016). When employees are late for work, they are given paperwork and it is filed within their personnel folder. The paperwork is negative for the late employee and could cause the employee to have an unsatisfactory performance report or be terminated if the tardiness becomes a habit. Utilizing negative reinforcement can effect change in the individual involved. Leaders that use coercive power are interested in having employees behave in a manner that is pleasing to them regardless of how the follower feels.
Information power is derived from possessing knowledge that others want or need. In my current profession, we have Principle Analysts who holds information power over the people in their shop because they are the subject matter experts. They know a lot about their work area and constantly train all new hires. As the Superintendent of my Squadron I have informational power over the employees because I have the knowledge of the entire Squadron and can provide information on all of them. The Principle Analyst are only able to provide information within the areas that they work.
The amount of power you possess is based on the title that you are given. If you are the CEO of a company, then you have the top of the line positional power. If you are an analyst within a office of 15 other analysts then you do not hole a superior title that will give you positional power. If you are subject matter expert on a particular work project, then you would possess information power. You would have reward power if you had the ability to provide for employees when they have met your expectations.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.