Discussion Question – Five Bases of Power
Conduct research on French and Raven’s five bases of power, which include coercive, legitimate, reward, referent, and expert power.
For the first part of your post, choose five leaders, one for each of the power bases, and give an example to support why a leader’s use of power best exemplifies a certain power base.
For the second part of your post, select any one of the following bullet points. Attempt to spread the bullet points out among class members (e.g., not have one bullet point answered by all course participants).
Assess which base of power is most appealing to you from the perspective of both a leader and a follower.
Justify which leader seems the most successful, using specific examples and research to support your view.
Propose a supported plan (three or four action steps) for how you (or the organization) might help one of the least successful leaders you chose to improve their leadership success.
Analyze a leader that uses a good balance of the different bases of power. How does this leader compare to those who have a dominant style?
Conclude your post with a three or four sentence summary of the most important point, lesson or takeaways from your research and analysis for your initial post.
Provide a substantive (500–1,000 words) initial discussion posting. Justify your answers with examples and reasoning. Comment on the initial postings of at least two peers. Your responses to other initial posts must be a 100 to 200 word minimum each.
You can ask technical questions or respond generally to the overall experience. Be objective, clear, and concise. Always use constructive language, even in criticism, to work toward the goal of positive progress.
French and Raven’s Five Bases of Power
Social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven divided power into five distinct forms also referred to as five bases of power. They include reward power, expert power, referent power, legitimate power and coercive power. Since leadership and power are directly linked, this essay gives examples of five leaders and shows how different bases of power manifests in their leadership and success (Randall, 2012).
Legitimate power is the power which is formally awarded to someone. Barack Obama during his tenure as the president is an example of a leader with legitimate power. This is evidenced by the fact that the American citizens voted him into power and the American government consequently ratified him into the power. Reward power, on the other hand, is the power that is conveyed to persons as a form of rewards for compliance. As Lunenburg (2012), indicates, the founder of Wal-Mart Stores, Sam Walton, heavily relied on the use of intangible awards as evidenced when he occasionally praised his employees. Also, Walton in a number of occasions was quoted saying that nothing else could substitute well-chosen and well-timed words of praise (Lunenburg 2012).
Referent power is majorly demonstrated when leaders are respected by their employees and desire to emulate him or identify with him. To obtain the referent power, the leader ought to first build trust between himself or herself and the employees. An example of a leader with referent power is Oprah. Even though she doesn’t hold a public office, there are a majority of people who view her as a role model and she also has a far-reaching influence on many people (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2008).
Also, expert power is derived from the subordinate’s believe that the leader has a high level of knowledge of the tasks at hand as opposed to them. An example of a leader demonstrating expert power is my professor when delivering the course content with a lot of expertise that demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the course. The fifth base of power is a coercive power which refers to the ability of a leader to force his subordinates to comply with his orders through the issuance of threats. Law enforcing officer is an example of a leader with coercive power, if people break the law, they ensure such a person is either fined or sentenced for a time in jail (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2008).
When assessing the five power bases, I find reward power to be the most appealing both to the leader and their followers. This is because it is likely to promote ethical behavior among followers who may opt to engage in pleasant activities in the hope of obtaining incentives in return. Similarly, Junaimah, See, & Bashawir (2015), observes, reward power may also promote job satisfaction within an organization especially when the efforts of hard-working employees are openly recognized and rewarded through bonuses, promotions, and attractive work assignments. This, in the long run, may increase an organizations production levels. However, different situations demand for different types of power influences. Therefore, a leader should employ a variety of bases in different circumstances so as to deliver an effective leadership.
Randall, D. M. (2012). Leadership and the use of power: shaping an ethical climate. The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, 6(1), 28.
Lunenburg, F. C. (2012). Power and leadership: an influence process. International journal of management, business, and administration, 15(1), 1-9.
Junaimah, J., See, L. P., & Bashawir, A. G. (2015). Effect Of Manager’s Bases of Power On Employee’s Job Satisfaction: An Empirical Study of Satisfaction With Supervision. International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, 3(2), 1-14.
Kinicki, A., & Kreitner, R. (2008). Organizational behavior: Key concepts, skills & best practices. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin.