What drives leadership? At one point, I couldn’t stand the conversation about leadership. It just seemed like books were being written on leadership that would claim that these are the laws or these are the steps that you need to follow in order to become a leader. It always left me with so many questions: Is every one a leader? Can anyone lead? Are leaders born or made? Is management leadership?
What made the difference for me – and the lesson that I learned and continue to learn is the fact that leadership is driven by power. It is not possible to lead without power. Power drives leadership.
If you do a Google search for French and Raven, you will find resources that talk about 5 power bases. Now, if you dig deeper, you will also find sources that further their study as well as critique their study, but it helps me to understand the idea of leadership. Without power, there is no leadership.
The idea is that you lead from one or more of these power bases. I think every leadership position has the potential of leading from any of these bases, and an understanding of these power bases can help with leadership ability. The five power bases are:
1. Coercive Power – the power to punish or coerce
2. Reward Power – the power to reward
3. Legitimate Power – Positional power/power of position/power of an office
4. Expert Power – power based on expertise or knowledge
5. Referent Power – It’s an “I will follow you” power.
The stronger the bases of power, the greater the power. Referent will have the broadest range, and in my opinion, the most powerful of the power bases (do your own research on it). I have seen individuals try to lead outside of their range of power (limits of leadership) and that has diminished their power. The use of reward or coercive power can increase a power relationship if used properly. Incorrect use of these power bases will diminish the power relationship. Leadership is about “followership.” If you are not correctly using your power bases, you will not have followers. If you need some leads for further study, please contact me or leave a comment.
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