Analysis of Types of Power in Leadership

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 4
Words: 1129
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College

Power is an essential part of human relations, especially in entrepreneurship and business. Power is traditionally defined as the ability and ability of a particular person to rely on various means (force, authority, law, economic mechanisms, tradition) to influence other people and the decisions they make (Krausz, 2017). The ability to control people’s behavior is called power, which refers to individuals, groups, and organizations. That is a function of interdependence: the more one person depends on the other, the more power they both have.

Depending on the resources on which subordination is based, the main types of power are distinguished (Krausz, 2017):

  1. Legal authority (traditional)
  2. Referent power (an example to follow power)
  3. Coercive power
  4. Reward power
  5. Expert authority
  6. Informational power
  7. Connection power

The traditional type of power exists everywhere, in all enterprises, and in this case, a person always responds to the position, and fulfills the boss’s recommendations. The legal authority is appointed or elected, which means that the candidate for the head of the department is appointed by order of the superior charge. The power of the established leader is always determined by the law and the articles of association of the enterprise (Krausz, 2017). At the same time, employees cannot choose another manager of their choice — a practical measure of the influence of the traditional leader in the order. Employees receive information from the text of the order and perform specific actions. However, the tradition-based method of power has serious shortcomings. For example, employees’ initiative and the financial and economic independence of structural units are shackled.

Reference power or the power of example is based on charisma – the strength of the personal qualities and abilities of a leader, for example, the characteristics of charismatic personalities: impressive appearance, rhetoric, demeanor, and energy. The subordinate usually wants to imitate him and follow orders. The personal qualities of a leader influence the method of influence. This type of authority can sometimes be observed in organizations when a particular leader, enjoying great popularity, inspires admiration and a desire to obey his staff. Often, reference leaders do not need additional incentives; they know how to manage a team and do it very willingly.

Influence through fear is at the heart of coercive power: demotion and the threat of losing a job. This form leads to a certain result, but does not contribute to the disclosure of the potential of workers, requiring high costs for strict control, in which the workers have a desire to deceive managers. The method of influence from the leader’s side, who builds his power on coercion, is based on fear. The use of coercive power in management is recommended to be demonstrated once and only in exceptional cases. A tough reception is legitimate and gives a result when an employee has violated a precise order or established procedure.

The most effective and proven way to manage people is reward-based power. The main thing is to determine the amount of remuneration correctly; if it is insufficient, the degree of motivation is insignificant (Krausz, 2017). Mistakes in the use of reward power lead to decreased productivity. It happens when, for example, the reward does not match the achievement. Difficulties also arise because it is often difficult to define what reward means. Money, a more prestigious position, and other material incentives cannot properly influence a person’s behavior.

When a subordinate take on trusts the professionalism of a manager, his experience, and knowledge, it is about an expert type of power. But the high professionalism of a manager in a specific area of activity, for example, a technical area, does not indicate the effectiveness of his work as a leader. The best option: the manager is a leader both professionally and organizationally. However, when the boss is at a loss in a difficult situation, the power of example is lost overnight. The result of indecision can lead to a loss of influence in the team and material damage.

Informational power comes from the compelling content of a message in and of itself. Such information may be possessed by this or that individual who is not an expert in this respect. This power occurs when one subject has information that can cause another issue to see the consequences of their behavior in a new light. In addition to positive features, information power can have several harmful properties. For example, the introduction into people’s private life through total control over them, the problem of information reliability, and others. Informational power can also be comparable to communication power.

Leaders have the power of connection when their alliance with influential people inspires the admiration and desire of others. Connectivity gives people the feeling or access to the same power as the influential person. This power is beneficial when the leader has connections with potential powerful business investors. At the same time, it does not matter if the desired contacts or valuable information, in the case of informational power, is not present.

To create a well-trained and knowledgeable workforce, Sinegal and other leaders at the top echelons of the Costco management hierarchy are abandoning the old command-and-control approach and focusing on mentoring, motivation, and empowerment. Costco’s humane and motivating management approach is impressive in its pay and reward systems (Chen, 2021). The company pays its employees an average hourly rate of $ 17, the highest rate among retail discounters while covering 92% of the cost of health insurance (Chen, 2021). Thus, in his very successful company, Sinegal combines reward, referent, and expert powers.

Much modern research is also looking at the effect of gender on boss abilities and the type of authority that different sexes prefer. For example, Pattni et al. studied the significant influence of the gender of the boss on the respiratory therapist’s ability to fight leadership (2017). The female anesthesiologist was more challenged, more persistent, and more effective. These are implications for educational interventions that target the ability to challenge a manager’s wrong decision and emphasize the assessment of the influence of gender on the willingness to speak up (Pattni et al., 2017). All of the above data indicate that the problem of gender inequality is still alive and affects the dynamics of interaction in medicine and, possibly, affects the quality of the exercised power.

Thus, in addition to traditional types of authority, others are applied, for the most part, depending on the situation. Usually, an ordinary person understands power only through political deeds. However, based on the examples given above, power is an integral part of the life of society. At the moment, due to the existing gender inequality, many also talk about male and female power. These types mainly differ in the decisiveness of the leaders and the types of power they choose.


Chen, J. (2021). Marketing strategy management of Costco : Analysis and comparison to S-Group. Theseus. Web.

Krausz, R. R. (2017). Power and leadership in organizations. Transactional Analysis Journal, 16(2), 85–94. Web.

Pattni, N., Bould, M. D., Hayter, M. A., McLuckie, D., Noble, L. M. K., Malavade, A., & Friedman, Z. (2017). Gender, power and leadership: The effect of a superior’s gender on respiratory therapists’ ability to challenge leadership during a life-threatening emergency. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 119(4), 697–702. Web.