Power, Its Sources and Relation to Leadership | Free Essay Example

Power, Its Sources and Relation to Leadership

Words: 580
Topic: Sociology

Power, Its Sources, and Usage

Power is the ability of a person to influence and define the actions of other people. John French and Bertram Raven introduced five types of power relying on their sources, including legitimate power (depends on a position held by a person), expert power (depends on knowledge possessed by a person), reference power (depends on relations people can cultivate with each other), coercive power (depends on a personal ability to threaten and punish), and reward power (depends on a personal ability to use incentives in different forms) (Burke & Barron, 2014; Totman, 2014). Regarding the experience obtained in schools, it is possible to say that teachers can use different sources of power and obtain the required results. Coercive power is used when a teacher punishes a student for being late or rude in communication.

For example, I was not allowed to a lecture because of being late for 15 minutes. I lost a chance to listen to interesting and helpful information and had to work this lateness out. I think that such power helps to promote discipline in a facility. Reward power in the form of high grades or thanksgiving letters motivates students to demonstrate their best skills and abilities. I was usually proud to inform my parents about my A+s. Legitimate teacher-student relationships predetermine the right of a teacher to give orders and the necessity of a student to obey them. I had to complete all written tasks at home because my failure could lead to the impossibility to graduate with honor. Expert and reference power types were used when the teacher shared her knowledge and experience to develop my skills and improve my understanding of the world. All these sources of power help both students and teachers.

Power, Motivation, and Leadership

Nowadays, people are free to use different words that contain certain power and provide their users with the ability to inspire, motivate, and persuade (Smith, 2013). At the same time, words can discourage and dissuade. Therefore, it is important to be careful with every word chosen in organizational communication. Words may have simple but impressive power on everyone who uses or listens to them. For example, leaders can make use of such phrases as “Join us!” or “Share with us!” to underline the role of such future cooperation and participation. Employees are usually motivated by such phrases because they understand that their ideas and skills are necessary.

Another good example is based on my personal experience. One of my teachers usually said such a phrase as “Let’s do something.” Such phases helped me realized that I was free to make a choice and participate in an activity. At the same time, such an order was not imposed. I decided to follow it or not.

The role of participative leadership cannot be ignored in work with employees. Such leaders involve employees in the discussion of all organizational points and themes. Company decisions are made regarding the demands of leaders and the skills of employees. A good participate leader is to underline the worth of such issues as morality, equality, respect, and acceptance of every new idea. Besides, participative leaders use all words effectively in their communication with employees to encourage them to share their opinions, be as creative as possible, and support retention by any possible means. Though the opinions of people may vary, leaders have to know that they possess enough power to control, motivate, and support their employees under different working conditions.


Burke, R., & Barron, S. (2014). Project management leadership: Building creative teams. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Smith, J. (2013). Words and phrases that inspire, motivate, and persuade at work. Forbes. Web.

Totman, S. (2014). Ironies leaders navigate: What the science of power reveals about the art of leadership and the distinct art of church leadership. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.