The previous Authentic Leader blogpost explored EXPERT power, which is authority resulting from a leader’s special knowledge or skills. In the last exploration of leadership power series, we will review REFERENT power.
REFERENT power is authority based on personality characteristics or interpersonal skills that command followers’ attention, respect, and admiration so that they can emulate the leader. When a follower or worker admires a leader because of the way the leader deals with them, the influence is based upon on reference. This type of leadership power is more visible in charismatic leaders. Some well known charismatic leaders include Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama, and Margaret Thatcher to name a few. These influential charismatic leaders influenced(s) nations with exceptional sanctity, heroism, and/or exemplary character.
In contrast, there are charismatic leaders who used their REFERENT power to destroy and harm. For example, Adolf Hitler, an Austrian-born German politician, who ultimately wanted to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in Europe. In 1945, Hitler along with allied armies had invaded German-held Europe from all sides. During which Nazi forces engaged in numerous violent acts during the war, including the systematic murders of millions of civilians, many whom were Jews targeted in the Holocaust.
Referent power is gained by a leader who has strong interpersonal relationship skills. Effective leaders acquire and maintain referent power through: (1) acting supportively and helpful; (2) makes self-sacrifices to show concern; and (3) keeping promises.
Key questions to ask regarding effective leadership and REFERENT power: Do I have a positive influence in my family, workplace, and/or community to properly exercise attention, respect, and admiration from others?
NEED to learn more and apply learning techniques as to properly exercise REFERENT Power and other leadership strategies … enroll your leadership team in The Leadership Experience Workshop.
© 2010 Karlyn D. Henderson, M.A., Leadership Development Strategist, consults and coaches leaders and and entrepreneurs to to quantum leap into successful significance, master a quality holistic life, and become empowered by conquering challenges and breaking through barriers. Check out her BLOG: Authentic Leader and follower her twitter@HendersonKarlyn.