Power: Definition, 10 Sources of Power, Uses of Power (Explained)

What is Power in Organizational BehaviorGenerally, power is the ability to cause or prevent an action, make things happen; the discretion to act or not act.

Ability conferred on a person by law to determine and alter (by his or her own will) the rights, duties, liabilities, and other legal relations, of himself or others. The ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.

The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events. “Power refers to a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B so that B acts following A’s wishes”.

Many scholars have given various definitions of power. Here mentioned some popular definitions:

What is Power in Organizational Behavior?

According to Kingsley Davis, “Power as the determination of the behavior of others following one’s own ends.1

According to Sheriff, “Power denotes the relative Weights of behavior by a member in a group structure.”

According to Weber, “Power as the probability that one actor (individual or group) within a social relationship in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests”.

According to Green, “Power is simply the extent of the capability to control others so that they will do what they are wanted to do.”

According to Lundberg and others, “By power, we mean the extent to which persons or groups can limit or regulate the alternative courses of action open to other persons or groups with or without their consent.”

According to Michel Foucault. “Power is a complex strategic situation in a given society social setting”.

According to Patrick J. Montana and Bruce H. Charnov, “The ability to attain these unique powers is what enables leaders to influence subordinates and peers by controlling organizational resources.”

Power may exist but not be used. It is, therefore, capacity or potential. One can have power but not impose it. Probably the most important aspect of power is that it is a function of dependency.

The greater B’s dependence on A, the greater is A’s power in the relationship. Dependence, in turn, is based on alternatives that B perceives and the importance that B places on the alternative(s) that A controls. A person can have power over you only if he or she controls something you desire. (Robbins, 2003)

Organizational power is defined as the ability of the organization structure to utilize all the mandatory resources in favor of organization development such as man, machine and other resources.

Power is not uniformly distributed to all levels in the organization; however, it is confined to certain departments or groups of people depending on the level of responsibility and seniority.

The motive of assigning power to these levels is to streamline the underlying activities by designing work structures, circulars, policies, and their successful implementation for the success of the organization.

10 Sources of Power

Power refers to the possession of authority and influence over others. Power is a tool that, depending on how it’s used, can lead to either positive or negative outcomes in an organization.

  • Where does power come from?
  • What is it that gives an individual or a group influence over others?

We answer these questions by dividing the bases or sources of power into two general groupings – formal and personal – and then breaking each of these down into more specific categories.

In 1959, American sociologists John French and Bertram Raven published an article, “The Bases of Power”, that is regarded as the basis for classifying power in organizations. They identified some sources of power.

10 sources of power are;

  1. Formal Power.
  2. Legitimate Power.
  3. Expert Power.
  4. Referent Power.
  5. Coercive Power.
  6. Reward Power.
  7. Informational Power.
  8. Connection Power.
  9. Political Power.
  10. Charismatic Power.

Let’s explain 10 sources of power.

10 Sources of Power in Organizational Behavior

Formal Power

Formal power is based on an individual’s position in an organization. Formal power can come from the ability to coerce or reward, from formal authority, or the control of information.

The formal power is based on rank—for example, the fire chief or the captain.

Legitimate Power

In the formal groups and organizations, probably the most frequent access to one or more of the power bases is one’s structural position. This is called legitimate power.

Legitimate power is also known as positional power. It’s derived from the position a person holds in an organization’s hierarchy.

Job descriptions, for example, require junior workers to report to managers and give managers the power to assign duties to their juniors. For positional power to be exercised effectively, the person wielding it must be deemed to have earned it legitimately.

An example of legitimate power is held by a company’s CEO.

Expert Power

Expert power is influence wielded as a result of expertise, special skill, or knowledge. Expert power is derived from possessing knowledge or expertise in a particular area.

Such people are highly valued by organizations for their problem-solving skills.

People who have expert power perform critical tasks and are therefore deemed indispensable. The opinions, ideas, and decisions of people with expert power are held in high regard by other employees and hence greatly influence their actions.

Possession of expert power is normally a stepping stone to other sources of power such as legitimate power.

For example, a person who holds expert power can be promoted to senior management, thereby giving him legitimate power.

Referent Power

Referent power is based on identification with a person who has desirable resources or personal traits.

If I like, respect, and admire you, you can exercise power over me because I want to please you. It is derived from the interpersonal relationships that a person cultivates with other people in the organization.

People possess reference power when others respect and like them. Referent power is also derived from personal connections that a person has with key people in the organization’s hierarchy, such as the CEO.

It’s the perception of the personal relationships that she has that generates her power over others. •

Coercive Power

Coercive power is derived from a person’s ability to influence others via threats, punishments or sanctions.

A junior staff member may work late to meet a deadline to avoid disciplinary action from his boss. Coercive power is, therefore, a person’s ability to punish fire or reprimand another employee.

Coercive power helps control the behavior of employees by ensuring that they adhere to the organization’s policies and norms.

Reward Power

The opposite of coercive power is reward power. People comply with the wishes or directives of another because doing so produces positive benefits; therefore, one who can distribute rewards that others view as valuable will have power over those others.

These rewards can be either financial – such as controlling pay rates, raises, and bonuses; or nonfinancial – including merit recognition, promotions, interesting work assignments, friendly colleagues, and preferred work shifts or sales territories.

In an organization, people who wield reward power tend to influence the actions of other employees. Reward power, if used well, greatly motivates employees.

But if it’s applied through favoritism, reward power can greatly demoralize employees and diminish their output.

Informational Power

Informational power is where a person possesses needed or wanted information. It comes from access to and control over information. This is a short-term power that doesn’t necessarily influence or build credibility.

For example, a project manager may have all the information for a specific project and that will give him/her “informational power.”

But it’s hard for a person to keep this power for long, and eventually, this information will be released.

This should not be a long-term strategy.

Connection Power

It is where a person attains influence by gaining favor or simply acquaintance with a powerful person.

This power is all about networking. If I have a connection with someone that you want to get to, that’s going to give me power.

People employing this power build important coalitions with others. It is a natural ability to forge such connections with individuals and assemble them into coalitions that give him/her strong connection power.

Political Power

This power comes from the support of a group. It arises from a leader’s ability to work with people and social systems to gain their allegiance and support.

It develops in all the state-owned organizations, especially when a certain political party holds power and their supporters show power in many aspects in the organizations.

By using political power, leaders can influence others and get some facilities from the organization.

Charismatic Power

Charismatic power is an extension of referent power stemming from an individual’s personality and interpersonal style.

Charismatic leaders get others to follow them because they can articulate an attractive vision, take personal risks, demonstrate environmental and follower sensitivity, and are willing to engage in behavior that most others consider unconventional.

But many organizations will have people with charismatic qualities who, while not in formal leadership positions, nevertheless can exert influence over others because of the strength of their heroic qualities.

The above-mentioned bases/types of power are normally practiced in many organizations.

But, indeed, all the powers are not seen in a single organization. The uses of powers vary organization to organization, time to time, person to person, situation to situation, etc.

Uses of power

Power can be used by a variety of people in a variety of ways. A useful perspective for studying the uses of power is illustrated in the table. The table encompasses two related aspects;

  1. power bases, requests from individuals possessing power and probable outcomes as correlated in the form of prescriptions for the manager, and
  2. general guidelines for the exercise of power.

The three potential outcomes of a person’s attempted use of power, as indicated in above depend on:

  1. The leader’s power base
  2. How that power base is operationalized; and
  3. Certain characteristics of the follower

Commitment is the likely outcome when the follower identifies with the leader and accepts the leader’s power attempt. Compliance is probably the outcome when the subordinate is willing to accept the leader’s desires, provided acceptance does not require extra effort on the subordinate’s part.

Resistance is the usual outcome when the subordinate is unwilling to comply and may even deliberately neglect to ensure that the leader’s wishes are not realized.

Sources of Leader InfluenceTypes of outcome
Referent PowerLikely, if the request is believed to be important to the leaderPossible, if the request is perceived to be unimportant to the leaderPossible, if the request is for something that will bring harm to the leader
Expert PowerLikely, if the request is persuasive and subordinates share the leader’s task goals.Possible, if the request is persuasive but the subordinates are apathetic about task goals.Possible, if the leader is arrogant and insulting, or the subordinates oppose task goals
Legitimate PowerPossible, if the request is polite and very appropriate.Likely, if request or order is seen as legitimatePossible, if arrogant demands are made or request does not appear proper.
Reward PowerPossible, if used in a subtle, very personal way.Likely If used in a mechanical, impersonal way.Possible If used in a manipulative, arrogant way.
Coercive PowerVery unlikelyPossible, if used in a helpful, non-punitive wayLikely, if used in a hostile or manipulative way.


Using Referent Power

As shown in Figure referent power can be a great asset to a leader. Leaders can develop and maintain referent power through the following activities:

  • The subordinate fairly and equitably
  • Defining the subordinate’s best interests
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the needs and feelings of the subordinates.
  • Select subordinates that are similar to the leader.
  • Be an active and positive role model.

Using Expert Power

Expert power can also be of considerable help to the leader in achieving subordinate acceptance. To reach and hold a high level of expert power, a leader should:

  • Promote his or her image of expertise
  • Maintain expert credibility
  • Behave in a confident and decisive manner
  • Keep informed and up-to-date.
  • Recognize the concerns of subordinates.
  • Avoid threatening the self-esteem of subordinates.

Using Legitimate Power

Leaders exercise legitimate power by formally and consistently requesting subordinates to do things that help the group achieve pre-established group objectives.

Guidelines for the use of legitimate power include the following:

  • Always be cordial and polite with subordinates.
  • Maintain an air of confidence in the legitimate power role.
  • Clarify instructions carefully and follow-up to verify understanding.
  • Be certain that the request is appropriate.
  • Explain the reasons for the request.
  • Follow proper organizational channels.
  • Exercise legitimate power regularly and consistently.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the concerns of subordinates.

Using Reward Power

Reward power is generally the easiest and most enjoyable power base for both the leader and the subordinate. The potential values of the reward power base can be maximized by adhering to a few basic guidelines, as follows:

  • Verify performance and compliance
  • Make requests to subordinates that are both feasible and reasonable.
  • Make only those requests that are ethical and proper.
  • Offer and distribute rewards that are desired by the subordinates.
  • Offer only those rewards that are credible. –

Using Coercive Power

Coercive power is the most difficult and unpleasant power to administer. The use of coercion is almost certainly going to cause some resentment and, in some cases, it can result in large scale resentment and retaliation.

Even minor resentment tends to erode the referent power of the leader. About the best that a leader can hope for as a result of using coercion is compliance, and that is possible only if the coercion is applied in a helpful, non-punitive manner.

However, every time coercive power is utilized, the leader must recognize that resistance is the most common outcome. To minimize the amount of resistance and to nurture compliance the leader must:

  • Be sure that all subordinates fully understand all rules.
  • Warn subordinates before punishing them.
  • Administer punishment uniformly and consistently.
  • Be sure you fully understand the situation before acting.
  • Maintain leader credibility.
  • Be certain that the punishment matches the infraction.
  • Always punish in private.

When managers, especially inexperienced managers, attempt the use of coercive power, they should use great care to minimize the many negative consequences of the action.

In punishing a given subordinate, the manager is in danger of winning the better but losing the war. Punishment must be administered with a special blend of support, good intentions, and firmness.

Principles of Power in Interpersonal Relationships

We know that there are many types of power and also have principles.

  • Power as a Perception.
  • The Principle of Least Interest and Dependence Power.
  • Power as a Relational Concept.
  • Power as a Resource-Based.
  • Power as Enabling or Disabling.
  • Power as a Prerogative.

The principles are discussed below;

Power as a Perception

Power is a perception in the sense that some people can have objective power, but still have trouble influencing others. People who use power cues and act powerfully and proactively tend to be perceived as powerful by others.

Some people become influential even though they don’t overtly use powerful behavior.

The Principle of Least Interest and Dependence Power

The person with less to lose has greater power in the relationship.

Dependence power indicates that those who are dependent on their relationship or partner are less powerful, especially if they know their partner is uncommitted and might leave them.

According to interdependence theory, the quality of alternatives refers to the types of relationships and opportunities people could have if they were not in their current relationship.

There’s an inverse relationship between interest in the relationship and the degree of relational power.

Power as a Relational Concept

Power exists in relationships. The issue here is often how much relative power a person has in comparison to one’s partner. Partners in close and satisfying relationships often influence each other at different times in various areas.

Power as a Resource-Based

Power usually represents a struggle over resources. The more scarce and valued resources are, the more intense and protracted are power struggles.

The scarcity hypothesis indicates that people have the most power when the resources they possess are hard to come by or are in high demand. However, scarce resource leads to power only if it’s valued within a relationship.

Power as Enabling or Disabling

Power can be enabling or disabling. Research has been shown that people are more likely to have an enduring influence on others when they engage in dominant behavior that reflects social skills rather than intimidation.

Personal power is protective against pressure and excessive influence by others and/or situational stress.

People who communicate through self-confidence and expressive, composed behavior tend to be successful in achieving their goals and maintaining good relationships.

Power can be disabling when it leads to destructive patterns of communication.

Power as a Prerogative

The prerogative principle states that the partner with more power can make and break the rules. Powerful people can violate norms, break relational rules, and manage interactions without as much penalty as powerless people. These actions may reinforce the powerful person’s dependence power.

Besides, the more powerful person has the prerogative to manage both verbal and nonverbal interactions. They can initiate conversations, change topics, interrupt others, initiate touch, and end discussions more easily than less powerful people.

Contingency Approaches to Power

As in other areas of organizational behavior and management, contingency approaches to power have emerged.

For example, Pfeffer simply says that power comes from being in the “right” place. He describes the right place or position in the organization as one where the manager has:

  • Control over resources such as budgets, physical facilities, and positions that can be used to cultivate allies and supporters.
  • Control over or extensive access to information about the organization’s activities, about the preferences and judgments of others, about what is going on, and about who is doing it
  • Formal authority.

There is some research support for such insightful observations, and there are also research findings that lead to contingency conclusions such as the following:

  • The greater the professional orientation of group members, the greater relative strength referent power has in influencing them.
  • The less effort and interest high-ranking participants are willing to allocate to a task, the more likely lower-ranking participants are to obtain power relevant to this task.

Besides these overall contingency observations, there is increasing recognition of the moderating impact of the control of strategic contingencies such as organizational interdependence and the extent to which a department controls critical operations of other departments or the role of influence behaviors in the perception of power.

Also, the characteristics of influence targets have an important moderating impact on the types of power that can be successfully used.

An Overall Contingency Model for Power

Many other contingency variables in the power relationship besides the target could be inferred from the discussion of the various types of power, for example, credibility and surveillance. All these variables can be tied together and related to one another in an overall contingency model.

The classic work on the influence process by social psychologist Herbert Kelman can be used to structure an overall contingency model of power. The model incorporates the French and Raven sources of power with Kelman’s sources of power, which in turn support three major processes of power.

According to the model, the target will comply to gain a favorable reaction or avoid a punishing one from the agent.

This is the process that most supervisors in work organizations must rely on. But for compliance to work, supervisors must be able to reward and punish (that has control over the means to their people’s ends) and keep an eye on them (that is, have surveillance over them)

People will identify not to obtain a favorable reaction from the agent, as in compliance, but because it is self-satisfying to do so.

But for the identification process to work, the agent must have referent power – be very attractive to the target – and be salient (prominent).

For example, a research study is Kelman found that students were initially greatly influenced by a speech given by a very handsome star athlete; that is, they identified with him.

However, when the students were checked several months after the speech, they were not influenced. The handsome athlete was no longer salient; that is, he was no longer at the forefront of their awareness, and his previous words at the later time had no influence.

As discussed earlier, except for the handful of superstars, athletes are soon forgotten and have no power over even their most avid fans. Once they have graduated or are out of season, they lose their salience and, thus, their power.

Finally, people will internalize because of compatibility with their value structure.

But, as the figure shows, for people to internalize, the agent must have an expert or legitimate power (credibility) and, besides, be relevant.

This process of power is most effective.

Kelman, for example, found that internalized power had a lasting impact on the subjects in his studies. Researchers have had problems constructing ways to measure compliance, identification, and internalization.

However, this model of power does have considerable relevance as to how and under what conditions supervisors and managers influence their people. Many must depend on compliance because they are not attractive or do not possess referent power for internalization to occur.

Kelman’s research showed that internalization had the longest-lasting impact and, as shown in the model, does not need surveillance or salience.

In other words, what is generally considered to be leaders is more associated with getting people not just to comply but also to identify with the leader and, even better, to internalize what the leader is trying to accomplish in the influence attempt.

This internalization would be especially desirable in today’s highly autonomous, flat organizations with cultures of Openness, empowerment, and trust.

Influenceabilitv of the Targets of Power

Most discussion of power implies a unilateral process of influence from the agent to the target.

It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that power involves a reciprocal relationship between the agent and the target, which is under the overall social cognitive perspective taken in this text.

The power relationship can be better understood by examining some of the characteristics of the target. The following characteristics have been identified as being especially important to the influenceability of targets.

  1. Dependency.
  2. Uncertainty.
  3. Personality.
  4. Intelligence.
  5. Gender.
  6. Age.
  7. Culture.


The dependency of the target depends on the resources controlled by the agent. If the dependency is high, power influence will be high or vice-versa.

The greater the target’s dependencies on their relationship to agents, the more targets are influenced.


Certainty or uncertainty in the mind of the agent about the appropriateness of his behavior determines his influenceability.

Experiments have shown that more uncertain people are about the appropriateness or correctness of behavior; the more likely they are to be influenced to change that behavior.


There are various research studies show a relationship between personality and influenceability. For example, people who cannot tolerate ambiguity or who are highly anxious are more susceptible to influence.


Though there is no conclusive proof about the direct relationship between intelligence and influenceability, it has been observed that more intelligent people are less susceptible to influence generated by positional power.


Although traditionally it was generally thought that women were more likely to conform to influence attempts than men because of the way they were raised, there is no evidence that this is changing.

As women’s and society’s views of the role of women are changing, there is less of a distinction of influenceability by gender.


A social psychologist has generally concluded that susceptibility to influence increases in young children up to about the age of eight or nine and then decreases with age until adolescence when it levels off.


The cultural values of a society have a tremendous impact on the influenceability of its people. Characteristics of culture to which targets belong affect their influenceability.

For example, people coming from a culture that is oriented to authority are highly susceptible to influence while people coming from a culture having low authority orientation are less susceptible to influence.

Power Dynamics

Power is understood as the ability to influence other people and events. It refers to a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B so that B acts following A’s wishes.

This definition implies a potential that need not be actualized to be effective and a dependency relationship. Power may exist but not be used. It is, therefore, capacity or potential.

One can have power but not impose it. Probably the most important aspect of power is that it is a function of dependency. The greater B’s dependence on A, the greater is A’s power in the relationship.

Dependence, in turn, is based on alternatives that B perceives and the importance that B places on the alternative(s) that A controls. A person can have power over you only if he or she controls something you desire.

The dynamics of power can be studied from several angles, viz., distribution, dependency, uncertainty, compliance, indicators, power determinants, power consequences, symbols, and reputation.

  • Distribution.
  • Dependency.
  • Uncertainty.
  • Compliance.
  • Power Indicators.
  • Determinants of Power.
  • Consequences of Power.
  • Symbols.
  • Reputation.


There is no rationale in the distribution of power among organizational members.

Some may yield more power than others.

Others, the power wielded by one member may be disproportionate to the organizational position he holds. Those in power try to grab more of it. They strongly resist any attempt to weaken the power they wielded.

An individual cannot have power at all times and in all places. He may be forced to forgo his power or he may be stripped of it. He resists the attempt to weaken his power, in the event of failure, he will try to form a coalition.


As mentioned earlier, power largely depends on the dependency relationship.

The greater B depends on A, the greater the power of A on B. The greater the dependency of an organization on a limited number of individuals, the greater the power these individuals enjoy.

A person who cannot be easily displaced enjoys more power than others whose services can be easily replaced.


Organizations seek to avoid uncertainty as far as possible.

People who can absorb uncertainty wield more power. Uncertainty depends on the nature of the organization. In a marketing firm, for instance, sales executives confront uncertainty and naturally wield more power.


Of all the types of power, people generally comply with legitimate power. People perceive reward and coercive powers as weak for complying with the manager’s requests.

Power Indicators

It is difficult to tell when power is being used. Those who use power usually do not want others to know about it. Indeed, power is most effective when it is not visible.

People tend to resist the use of power when they see themselves being influenced in a way that is contrary to their desires.

However, if the attempt to influence appears to be legitimate and rational, we are more willing to comply and subject ourselves to the wishes of others. Frequently, individuals who are using power fail to recognize what they are doing.

They honestly feel they are exerting a rational influence that can be justified for legitimate reasons other than their wishes. They sincerely think their influence is rational rather than political.

Determinants of Power

One method of assessing power focuses on the potential to exert influence and consists of measuring how many determinants of power are available to each member.

One of the bases of power is expertise; therefore, individuals who possess better knowledge and expertise can exert better influence in situations where their knowledge is important.

In assessing the relative power of students who have formed a study group, we find that the student who seems to possess better knowledge will have greater power.

Consequences of Power

The distribution of power can be assessed by examining the consequences of a decision making process. Since power is used to influence decisions, those with the greatest power should be the ones who obtain the most favorable decision outcomes.

Typically we assume that the most powerful people are the ones who can persuade others.

Therefore, they would usually be on the winning side of a vote.

Sometimes, however, the outcome of a decision is obvious long before it is made, and to avoid being on the losing side, individuals will jump on the bandwagon to become part of the winning team.


Examining how many symbols of power they possess can assess the power of different individuals.

Symbols include such things as titles, office size and location, special parking privileges, special eating facilities, automobiles, airplanes, and office furnishings.

Since the executive offices are typically on the top floor of a building, the location of offices on other floors often reflects the relative power of the officeholders.


Another way of assessing power in organizations is to ask members of the organization who possess the greatest power or exerts the greatest influence.

This method measures the reputation of organizational members as perceived by others and assumes that people are knowledgeable about power relationships and willing to report what they know.

These assumptions are often incorrect, especially when power is effective because then it is not perceived as an exercise of power.

Consequently, the potential activities of the most powerful individuals may be understated or overlooked by both themselves and others.

Finally, the last way of assessing power is to determine which individuals and groups are the most heavily represented on the committee and other significant administrative posts.

As a group rule, individuals who are invited to participate in significant administrative council acquire greater power for their departments, such as when accountants participate in an executive committee meeting or when engineers participate in quality circles.

A few years ago the word “power” was not worthy of discussion in the subject of Organizational Behavior.

Not anymore. Today it has acquired respectability because of its significant impact on the behavior of people in the organizations.

Acquisition of Power

It is everybody’s knowledge that some people enjoy more power than others. They do so by-

  • Doing the right things.
  • Cultivating the right people.
  • Coalescing.
  • Co-opting.
  • Others.

Doing the Right Things

Although most employees faithfully perform their assigned role, methodical and dependable role performance does not necessarily increase an individual’s power.

Some activities are considerably better than others for increasing personal power. The power of individuals increases when their activities are extraordinary, highly visible, and especially relevant to organizational problems.

Extraordinary Activities

Routine job performance does not contribute much to personal power even when the performance is excellent.

To increase their power significantly, individuals need to perform unusual or non-routine activities that commonly involve an element of risk.

Examples of extraordinary activities include negotiating a new contract, developing a new program, or designing a new product.

Visible Activities

Extraordinary activities will not generate much power if no one knows about them. Therefore, the extraordinary activities must be visible to others in the organization, preferably without the individual having to “Blow his own trumpet”.

Individuals who are required to advertise’ their extraordinary activities do not gain as much power as those whose activities are announced by top management or influential people outside the organization.

Relevant Activities

Besides being extraordinary and visible, the activities need to be seen to be relevant to the mission of the organization or the solution of important organizational problems.

Trivial activities do not produce the same degree of personal power as activities that are central to the survival of the organization.

Cultivating the Right People

In addition to doing the right things, individuals can increase their power by developing informal relationships with the right people. If the interpersonal relationships are properly managed, virtually everyone can contribute to the development of the individual’s power, including superiors, subordinates, and peers.


Higher managers can significantly increase an individual’s power, as suggested by the phrase “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts.”

Superiors who show a special interest and willingness to help promising subordinates are referred to as mentors or sponsors. These individuals may be an immediate supervisor or any higher-level officer.

They can be extremely helpful in increasing personal power by speaking favorably of subordinates, recommending them for new assignments, and providing introductions to other influential people.


Although it may seem unusual for subordinates to have the capacity to increase their superior’s power, they may indeed play a very significant role by making their superior look good or by endorsing their superior’s views and recommendations.

Professors who train brilliant doctoral students and managers who train outstanding new leaders can exert greater influence not only because of their reputation as outstanding trainers but also because of their continuing relationship with their former subordinates.


An individual’s power can be enhanced or destroyed by favorable or unfavorable relationships with peers. Individuals cannot succeed alone. They depend upon the support and cooperation of their peers.

An antagonistic relationship with peers can destroy personal power and prevent individuals from being effective within the organization.


Another strategy used to acquire and enhance power Coalescing the process of forming coalitions. Individuals Or groups frequently combine their resources to pursue common goals and objectives.

The basic reason for joining together in such an alliance is an increased capacity to influence, achieved through greater control of resources. A labor union, for example, comprises many individuals seeking to promote the collective interests of workers.


Another method of increasing power is co-opting. Co-opting is accomplished by absorbing people or groups whose support is needed into positions of limited influence.

This tactic differs from coalescing in that it specifically seeks to eliminate threats and opposition to an individual’s base of power.

Doing the right things, knowing the right people, coalescing and co-opting are not the only strategies for acquiring or enhancing power, but they are representatives of the methods commonly used and observed in organizational settings.

Other methods of power acquisition

There are some other strategies to gain power. These strategies can be .studied under two heads;

  1. positional power, and
  2. personal power.

Positional Power can be Acquired by

  • Increases one’s centrality and criticality in the organization.
  • Increase the personal discretion and flexibility of one’s job.
  • Build tasks that are difficult to evaluate.
  • Increase the visibility of job performance.
  • Increase the relevance of one’s tasks to the organization.

Strategies for Gaining Personal Power

Personal power depends on the characteristics of the manager as an individual and not the organizational position he/she occupies. Naturally, personal power can be strengthened by enhancing individual traits.

A manager can enhance his or her power through the expertise gained by possession of special knowledge (gained by education, training ‘ and experience) and information (gained by accessing to data or people)

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