A major distinction in leadership is how leaders gain and use power. Power is one of the most important concepts in how a leader interacts with others. How a leader uses their power makes the difference between positive or negative reactions from followers.
Power is intangible force which can not be seen; however its effect can be felt. Power is defined as the ability of one person or department within an organization to influence other people to bring about desired outcomes. Thus, an dividual or a group of people can exercise power to impact lives. There are five types of power, today, we will explore: legitimate power.
Legitimate power is the authority gained from a formal positon within a team or an organization, for example, a manager over a department. Subordinates in the department understand they are obligated to follow the manger’s direction with respect to work; thus, comply to directions, goal setting, and general activities.
Because legitimate power is based upon the position of a person, it can be abuse. Leaders can abuse legitimate power to have suboriates to work overtime or comply to unjust conditions. For example, the new reality show “Undercover Boss” on CBS explosed a Hooters restaurant’s manager manipulating waitresses to eat beans with their mouths in order to get off work early. This manager abused his legitimate power to degrade the waitresses in respect to work activities.
It is important for leaders to understand their responsibility and authority in power. Workers should be positively encouraged in their work activities and not manipulated through abuse and mistuse of legitimate power.
Legitimate power isn’t limited to the workplace manager; hence, leaders in every facet include parents, mentors, ministry leaders, community leaders, business owners, and government officials are encouraged not to abuse legitimate power.
Three questions leaders should ask before exercising legitimate power: (1) What are my motivites?; (2) Am I abusing my rights as a leader to gain compliance and committment?; and (3) Am I creating barriers and challenges through manipulation?
© 2010 Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A. All rights reserved.
Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A., Leadership Development Strategist, consults and coaches senior and executive leaders climb their ladders of success and master a quality life by conquering challenges and breakingthrough barriers. Check out her BLOG: Leader Notes at http://poimena.com and follower her twitter@PoimenaConsult.