Explanations > Theories
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Power is the ability to get others to change their behavior
even if they do not wish to do so.
There are five bases of power defined by French and Raven (1960):
- Reward power: control over valued resources.
- Coercive power: ability to inflict punishment, possibly physical.
- Expert power: superior knowledge.
- Legitimate power: formal rank or position.
- Referent power: when people want to be like you.
Power is much written about and other typologies include:
- Jeffery Pfeffer: Personal attributes, organization structure and the fit
between situational requirements and personal traits
- Charles Handy: Power resources (physical, financial, position, expert,
personal), methods of influence (force, rules/procedures, exchange,
persuasion, ecology, magnetism)
- Henry Mintzberg: Resources, technical skill, knowledge, formal power and
access to others
Simplifying, power comes from:
- Being able to do something that the other person does not want.
- Having something that the other person wants (or at least controlling
access to it).
- Being able to change the beliefs or understanding of the other person (
through rational logic or irrational charisma).
I have all forms of power over my children. They have reward power over
me, by withholding their affections.
Understand your situation of power. Seek to build it over
time. Use it sparingly: abuse of power often has unintended negative effects,
such as reactance.
Recognize the power that you always have. At minimum you
always have power over your own actions, as workers have known for centuries.
Coercion, Least Interest Principle,
Reactance Theory, Persuasion
French and Raven (1960), Pfeffer
(1992), Mintzberg (1983)