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The Concept of Power

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Different Sources of Power in Organisation

Power refers to that control or holds over another person, organisation or body of people. When talking about it in terms of a country, the Prime Minister or President holds the most amount of power, in businesses, the board of the company will hold the most amount of power. The person that you report to at your workplace holds power over you, as do your teachers in your school.


However, the more power you have, the more responsible you must be with it. We will now look at the sources of power and the various power tactics involved when someone holds a good amount of power.

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What are the Sources of Power?

There are 5 basic sources of power that we should know about for our levels of knowledge. Here are the 5 sources of power, listed as follows:


1. Power of Reward

The power of reward is also called the power of using positive reinforcements. Positive reinforcement refers to when we reward good behaviour to make sure that this positive behaviour continues forth. For example, if we get rewarded with chocolate every time we finish our homework on time, this will encourage us to finish our homework on time.


2. Power of Coercion

The power of coercion refers to when power is exerted using negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement refers to when we are punished or threatened to be punished for carrying out bad behaviour, which will then encourage good behaviour. For example, if we refuse to do our homework on time, our moms can threaten to take away our screen time for the day, which forces or coerces us to finish our homework on time.


3. Legitimate Power

Legitimate power refers to the power that a person attains concerning his or her position at the workplace, or in other strata of life where the position that they are in earns them the respect which turns into power. For example, your mom has legitimate power because of her position in your life as your mom, or your boss has legitimate power because of her or his position as your boss.


4. Expert Power

This kind of power comes into play when you have certain knowledge and learnings which earn you a level of respect. In this way, your knowledge will become the source of your power. For example, our teachers are knowledgeable and thus gain the powerful position of being your teacher.


5. Referent Power

Referent power refers to the power that a person has over someone else who looks up to them. Celebrities are the biggest example of the people who hold referent power - they can influence their fans to do things like buy products, start a social media uproar, etc. because of the liking that the fans have taken to the celebrity. This kind of power can be tricky and people can be easily manipulated when someone is granted this power.


Power Tactics

There are several power tactics that individuals may use when trying to persuade them about something. Let’s take a look at these power tactics to exert power in organisational behaviour.

  1. Rational Persuasion: 

Rational persuasion refers to when a powerful entity uses reason, facts and rationality to persuade or influence another person.

  1. Inspirational Appeals: 

This refers to when an appeal is made to the person’s emotions, feelings, aspirations or dreams to persuade them for something.

  1. Personal Appeals: 

Using a personal relationship with someone to persuade them, such as friendship, a familial or a romantic relationship, etc.

  1. Consultation: 

Getting people involved with the process to make them feel included and in turn persuaded.

  1. Ingratiation: 

Showering a person with compliments, flattery and being helpful to the person to get them to listen to you and to what you want them to do.

  1. Pressure: 

This is one of the more coercive power tactics where one may use force or the threat of danger or harm to persuade a person.

  1. Exchange: 

This is one of the most common power tactics where one chooses to agree to what someone wants them to do or say in exchange for the promise of an “IOU” or a favour in return.

  1. Coalition Tactics: 

This is a tactic which uses an all-vs-one method where multiple people get together to have one person agree to what the larger group wants.

  1. Legitimating Tactics: 

This tactic is the best one as it involves using protocols, rules and regulations, even laws, to persuade the person to do what the persuader wants them to, and there is no way around them.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What are the Sources of Power in Management?

Ans. Power in management is incredibly important and those with power need to be demarcated from the ones who don’t. The following are the different sources of power in an organisation:

  1. Power of reward: using rewards of positive reinforcements.

  2. Power of coercion: using threats, punishments and negative reinforcements.

  3. Legitimate power: the power which comes from the position that a person holds, such as a CEO or a school principal.

  4. Expert power: here, the power comes from the knowledge and experience you have.

  5. Referent power: this power is visible when someone who is looked up to uses that stance for their purposes.

Q2. What are the Different Power Tactics in an Organisation?

Ans. There are several power tactics in organisations, which are:

  1. Rational Persuasion: using reason, facts and rationality.

  2. Inspirational Appeals: appealing to the person’s feelings or aspirations.

  3. Personal Appeals: using a personal relationship with someone to persuade them.

  4. Consultation: Getting people involved with the process to make them feel included.

  5. Ingratiation: Showering a person with flattery to get them to do what you want.

  6. Pressure: using force or the threat of danger or harm to persuade a person.

  7. Exchange: agreeing to something in return for a favour.

  8. Coalition Tactics: a group of people persuade one person.

  9. Legitimating Tactics: using protocols, rules, etc. to persuade a person.