When I think about power and influence, I think about the people who I have been exposed to the most who have a lot of power and influence on me, obviously besides my parents. Power and influence make me think of my high school baseball coach the most because he had a lot of influence on me. Influence is changing a person’s behaviors, beliefs, or values (PSU WC, L7, 2019). My baseball coach was someone who definitely had the power, or capacity, to produce a change in me, since he was my coach and also a teacher of a class that I took.
Starting with influence tactics, which is a person’s behaviors that are intended to initiate change in another (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Influence is important because if a person can’t influence then they cannot lead (Northouse, 2016, p. 6).
My coach had a very good influence tactic that involved his clothing. Unlike other baseball coaches, who wore a team uniform to game, our coach would wear a suit to every single game. According to a study done by Bickman (1974), clothing can affect a person’s capacity to produce change (PSU WC, L7, 2019), and it definitely did. When we first met our coach, he appeared to have a lot of power and we were kind of intimidated by him. When he continued wearing a suit at each game, it made us feel like he had more power than all of us and even made us feel more important than if he just worse the same uniform as us.
When we look at the taxonomy of social power, which are different way a person can influence others (PSU WC, L7, 2019), our coach checks off all the powers. Expert power is the power of knowledge (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Our coach had expert power because he was well known as being an elite coach. Also, we knew that he had played professional baseball in his younger years so we knew he definitely had a lot of knowledge that he could share with us. Referent power has to do with the relationship between the leader and the follower (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Our coach, while intimidating, was one of the friendliest persons I had ever met. He was always very kind and understanding and would often joke around with us, so we all liked him. Legitimate power is the power someone has because of their formal position (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Since he was our coach, and most of our teachers for one class, he definitely had a lot of legitimate power over us. My coach also had reward and coercive power. Reward power is the power over someone due to the leader’s control over the followers desired resources (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Our coach had reward power over us because he could determine how often we would get to play or what order the batting line up went in. We also wanted to perform well in games and practices so he could reward us with more playing time. Also, since he was a well know coach, he could give good recommendations to colleges about us for both school and baseball. He also had coercive power which is the opposite of reward power and had to do with him having power because he could punish us or take away our desired outcomes. During practice, we always wanted to impress him because if we didn’t, he could take away our playing time. Also, we were always afraid that if we did something wrong, he would grade us more harshly.
Clearly our coach had a lot of power and he used that to his advantage in a number of ways using different influence tactics. There are three types of influence tactics from the Influence Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ; Yukl et al., 1992) (PSU WC, L7, 2019) that my coach used. The first was rational persuasion which is using logical arguments or facts to influence followers (PSU WC, L7, 2019). Whenever my team wasn’t playing well he would use the logical argument that if we worked harder in practice or practiced more at home we would get better. This is obvious but he would often reassure this with his story. When he was younger he wasn’t the best baseball player and was even playing baseball in a league that wasn’t as good as ours. He would tell us how after his practices or games, he would go to a local field and practice pitching and hitting balls with his dad. He said that he would do this for a minimum of 3 hours. This tactic worked on us because he played professional baseball and started off not as good as us so we thought if we just practiced more, we too could play professional baseball (2 of my teammates actually do now). Another influence tactic my coach used was inspirational appeals which is when a person makes a request or proposal to influence the targets arousal or emotion (PSU WC, L7, 2019). My coach did this by often telling us that if we won a certain game, he would take us out and pay for dinner, or not make us run laps. We would definitely persuade by this because we loved team dinners and hated running laps. The third influence tactic that my coach used was exchange. My coaches’ exchanges were similar to the appeals except they specifically applied to one person at a time. For example, if a person was up to bat, my coach would say something along the lines of “if you hit a double, you can wear sweatpants instead of your baseball pants at next practice” or the usual “you won’t have to run laps if you hit a double.” This also influenced us and got us focused because we wanted badly for these favors to happen.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2019). Lesson 7: Power and Influence. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/canvas/fa19/21981–15196/content/07_lesson/printlesson.html.
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2019). PSYCH 485 Lesson 7: Power and Influence.