Introduction to Influence Power and Leadership:
The essence of leadership is influence. You either influence someone to take action or communicate effectively in order to lead others. By influencing others, you start taking action which can be leading by example. There are 3 types of influences; coercive influence, reward influence and legitimate influence.
Coercive influence is often referred to as the ‘power over’ approach and uses fear of punishment to compel people into action. Reward influence is the ‘power with’ approach that relies on providing incentives for individuals to follow your lead. Legitimate influence is the ‘power from within’ approach that builds a sense of purpose, values and self-confidence in others. In this article we will focus on legitimate influence which is the most powerful of the three types.
Leadership is based on influence and legitimate influence is based on providing people with spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and social well being. This type of leadership always has a common goal which provides direction to their subordinates. This type of leader needs to have knowledge, skills and abilities in order to influence people.
The 6 Core Elements of Legitimate Influence:
There are six elements that constitute legitimate influence. These six elements include; legitimate power, charisma, vision, passion, connection and competency (Covey).
1) Legitimate Power:
As mentioned previously, leadership is about influencing others so there needs to be a legitimate power base to influence people. This is because it is difficult for anyone to follow and lead others if they do not know what direction the group or person is moving in. It could be said that we always follow those whom we perceive as having more knowledge and skill than ourselves.
Charisma is often seen as a type of charm or aura that some people seem to have and others do not. We all know people who we would say are charismatic and those whom we find it difficult to like even if they appear likeable. Charisma is the ability to use communication skills and body language in order to engage with and influence others.
Vision refers to the ability of leaders to paint a picture for their team. They provide explanations or communicate ideas that are easy for people to understand and get behind. Visionary leaders will create an end goal that they would like to see achieved by providing short-term milestones for their team.
Leaders need to be able to engage with their team and provide them with reasons for wanting to achieve the vision. Leaders who are passionate about their vision and can show this will be more likely to influence people than those who lack passion.
People who seem likeable and warm individuals tend to make others want to follow them because they appear likeable people. These individuals are good at providing a positive image of themselves and they know how to bring the best out in others.
In many cases, people will follow those whom they perceive as being competent. This is because it can be difficult for anyone to go against a person with knowledge and skill in a particular area.
Legitimate Influence and Coercive Power:
Leadership is based on influence so there needs to be a legitimate power base from which to influence people. There are times when it may appear that someone has genuine influence over others even if they do not have a clear power base for this behaviour. In these cases, the person with influence may have a relationship with the person they are influencing. This might be because of past experiences together or simply because one party knows about personal information that has not been disclosed to others which makes them believe it would be difficult to replace the individual in question.
Coercive power can also influence people even if there is no legitimate power basis for this behaviour. Coercive power usually appears in times of high stress when a leader will provide their team with information that they know others will not be able to easily refute. In these circumstances, people might follow the leader without any legitimate power base in order to avoid being seen as insubordinate.
In conclusion, leadership is about influencing others so there needs to be a legitimate power base from which to influence people. Leadership is based on six core elements of legitimate influence including; legitimate power, charisma, vision, passion, connection and competency. Coercion can also influence people even if there is no legitimate power basis for this behaviour. Legitimate power can exist without coercive power or coercion coming into the mix.
What is influence vs power?
Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something.
Power is defined as: “the ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events”. It can be viewed as a positive sum game whereby one person’s power and influence increases as another person’s increases. Influence can be thought of as the capacity to have an effect on another person’s actions, whereas power is seen as the ability to direct or change the behaviour of others (Lavine, 2002). When one party perceives that another has influence over them, this implies power; however, there are many cases where people will perceive that an individual has influence over them without perceiving that the individual has power over them.
Power is more closely related to the concept of authority, which is defined as “the legitimate ability to give orders or directives” (Friedland et al., 1992). The two terms are often used interchangeably in common language. Authority can be formal or informal and it needs to be earned or granted (Lavine, 2002).
Authority is defined as “the legitimate ability to give orders or directives” (Friedland et al., 1992). The two terms are often used interchangeably in common language. Authority can be formal or informal and it needs to be earned or granted (Lavine, 2002).
What is the relationship between leadership and power leadership and influence?
Leadership is about influencing others so there needs to be a legitimate power base from which to influence people. There are a lot of ways that leaders can influence people without having to resort to using power.
The most important point in the text is about influencing others so there needs to be a legitimate power base from which to influence people. At the same time, leadership is not about obtaining power but it’s more related with influencing others and leading them in a particular direction. It is necessary for leaders to use power and influence in order to be able to lead and manage people, but having a legitimate power base is not the most important thing about leadership. This means that it’s possible that someone can have an illegitimate power base, but they are still capable of being a leader.
What are the main sources of power and leadership influence in the workplace?
There are six sources of power and influence in the corporate world: coercive, reward, legitimate, referent, expert and information .
The coercive form of power includes threats to physically harm or intimidate others. This can also include threatening to withdraw resources or implement policies that would negatively affect others. This type of power is the least acceptable and least effective in gaining internal influence
The reward power is very similar to coercive and involves offering material or emotional rewards for compliance. While this form of power might at first appear attractive, there are several problems with it: It requires a large resource commitment to maintain constant rewards, once the rewards stop people will likely look for them elsewhere, and the threat of removing the reward is equally as damaging as other sources of power
Legitimate power stems from organizational position. Management has legitimate power because they are responsible for making decisions that affect others within their organization. Legitimate power offers a great incentive for compliance and is an effective source of power and influence in the workforce. However, there are limitations: It can create resentment if management is overbearing or it’s used to the point where people no longer feel they have a choice
Referent power is based on liking someone; we like those who like us . If your boss likes you, then you are more likely to comply with their wishes and requests. This power source is effective because of its positive nature and can be encouraged by doing nice things for and taking an interest in the needs of others . The only drawback to this source of power is that while it can be used to gain influence, it cannot be enforced if someone withdraws their liking of you. If you are too demanding, people will withdraw their liking for you
Expert power is ascribed to those who have more education or experience than others do. If someone is perceived as an expert in a field it’s likely that others will follow this person’s advice . This source of power can be empowering, but employees must be cognizant of the fact that expertise can be faked. If someone lacks credibility, there is no power or influence associated with their supposed expertise
Information access confers influence because it is valuable to know what resources are available . This information can be shared with peers and subordinates, who will in return feel obligated to provide support when requested. The problem with this source of power is that people can withhold information and create a sense of isolation. Additionally, knowledge is not power unless it’s used to influence others.
What is the role of power in leadership?
Power is a relational construct that links a leader and a follower. It can be defined as “the capacity to influence other people or the environment”. Some authors consider that power is an outcome of social dynamics. In this perspective, power relations are seen as inter-individual processes in which individuals interact to reach common goals. The literature suggests that power relations within a group can influence an individual’s capacity to influence others.
An influential leader can also be described as a relational agent . This means the leader has an impact on relationships within the group. An influential leader may have either referent or expert power. Referent power is based on liking someone, which is called referent power because people want to follow those they like. Expert power stems from organizational position or expertise of the leader.
The Power of Influence in Leadership Development:
Recent work in social psychology provides some answers.
You probably know that, on average, people who are physically more attractive also tend to be judged as more competent (with the exception of women’s attractiveness during their menstrual cycle). But is this necessarily a good thing for society?
Probably not. Here’s why: If beautiful people are universally judged as smarter, more competent, and having greater leadership potential, then many mediocre-looking people will be denied opportunities or advancement simply because they don’t meet the standards of physical attractiveness. If you need an example, just look at politics where attractive elected officials are nearly always perceived as being more intelligent.
Pretty politicians are given the benefit of the doubt in political debates, more often believed when they make statements, and are even assumed to be better-looking by voters who have never laid eyes on them. Of course, this is counter-productive for society. If most people assume that attractive people are smarter when in reality their success is attributable to discrimination, then this assumption—this belief that attractive people are smarter—will continue to perpetuate itself. This will create a false reality in which the majority of our elected officials (and potentially our leaders in other spheres) are assumed to be more competent than they really are.
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink , you know that snap judgments are often more accurate than carefully considered ones. Unfortunately, snap judgments about leadership potential are biased towards attractive people while the truth is the opposite.
Fortunately, there’s research on this topic too. One study asked participants to rate their professors on teaching ability and then conducted a blind review of actual teaching evaluations. You’ll be shocked (not) to learn that the professors who were perceived to be more attractive actually received higher teaching evaluations – even when they didn’t.
To quote the study, “The typical correlation between an instructor’s student-rated teaching effectiveness and her physical attractiveness was .20.” This is only one example, but it is telling. It’s also part of a growing body of evidence that subtly suggests that our snap judgments about others are often more influenced by their appearance than we might expect or want.
The solution? Instead of promoting people based on attractiveness, assess leadership potential with each individual leader in mind.
How the study of power and politics could influence leadership behavior?
Whether it is a leader within an organization or political leaders, either they will be successful or not depends on the power and politics of the situation. Leadership is often interpreted as great vision and motivation to guide people and lead them towards success. However, success also depends on how you manage and negotiate with others in your environment (Peiperl & Sanders, 2014, p.476).
The most influential factor that defines a successful leader is their personal power and politics ( Meindl, 1993 & Adizes & Ichikawa, 2000 ). It not only influences the leader but also has an effect on how they lead and manage others in an organization (Hollander, 1978; Bennis & Nanus, 1985).
Note that both political skills and power are different from each other. While power refers to the energy or capacity to exercise control over others in a given environment, politics describe the process of influence within an organization (Hoyle & Contis, 2001). Power is required in order for someone to be effective in their role whereas politics are the behaviors that are necessary to keep relationships balanced and healthy (Hollander, 1978). A leader who lacks in political skills usually ends up relying solely on their own power. This will make them less effective because they tend to use it against others when there is conflict or disagreement with each other (Adizes & Ichikawa, 2000; Treadway, 2009).
Hence, it is important for great leaders to be attentive with regards to their interactions and communication with others. They have to negotiate the best deal possible in order to get things done while being able to keep everyone on board (Hollander, 1978; Treadway, 2009). Rather than having an authority in title or position, they motivate and inspire others to take action (Gardner & Avolio, 2006; Mayer et al., 2009).
The following are the most important leadership lessons that we can learn from political science:
1) Understand your environment:
– be sensitive towards people’s emotions and what is happening around you. Leaders who lack in this ability tend to make the mistake of thinking that they are doing something right while it is actually not (Hollander, 1978; Meindl, 1993).
2) Get support from your team:
– a leader who can work well with others and motivate them will always have a better chance of getting things done. This is because they know that once everyone is on board, the chance of success increases (Gardner & Avolio, 2006; Mayer et al., 2009).
3) Effective negotiation skills.
One should be able to get others to do what you want while allowing them some level of freedom to negotiate their own ideas or opinions. This is because any decisions that are made must not upset some people or cause conflict within the organization. Leaders who have these skills tend to achieve a better deal for both parties while being able to cut through the personal feelings of members in an organization.
4) Be aware of your own emotions and how they influence others around you:
– it is common for a leader’s emotions or state of mind to affect the team and the company. Being able to manage your emotions is important in order for you to be adaptable and flexible when handling different people or difficult situations (Mayer et al., 2009).
5) A good leader not only talks but also walks the talk:
– they do what they say and follow through with their promises. They will not make empty promises or tell others what they think they want to hear, instead, they provide solid and basis feedback so that people can trust them (Peiperl & Sanders, 2014).
6) A good leader is also a team player:
– they know how to collaborate with others as well as build rapport easily. They are able to adjust their leadership style to suit the situation.
7) A good leader is able to communicate their vision in order for others to understand it clearly.
This is because they are aware of how crucial communication skills are when trying to get people on board (Treadway, 2009; Mayer et al., 2009). They also act as a mediator between different parties that may be in conflict.
8) A good leader is able to give credit where it’s due.
They know when the credit should be awarded to an individual who has done a great job or when they need to share it with their team in order for them to maintain harmony within the group (Treadway, 2009).
9) A good leader is able to hold themselves accountable for their own mistakes.
They are willing to admit when they are wrong and listen to what others have to say about the situation.
10) A good leader is able to take feedback objectively.
They do not take reactions personally or get upset with what others say. Instead, they listen to the information and try to understand their team (Gardner & Avolio, 2006).
What we can learn from political science:
“To win in politics you must play the game like a master chess player who is several moves ahead.” – Jess Bachman
We may not all be interested in politics or governance, but the leadership lessons that are taught in political science can be translated to almost any career field. These skills are essential for anyone who wants to take on a leadership role and they will help us to improve our personal and professional lives as well as those of others (Mayer et al., 2009).
A good leader is one who can motivate their team and get results. They are able to deal with different people and changing situations; they collaborate, share credit and listen to feedback in order to understand their team better (Treadway, 2009).
To be a good leader does not always mean that you will be in a management position or sit on the board of directors. Our society is becoming more and more democratic with many workers having a say in decision making. This means that there will be times when we will need to make decisions for our team (Bianco & Behson, 2011).
No matter what area of leadership you plan on focusing on, self-awareness and interpersonal skills will be important. Being able to adapt your leadership style is also crucial in order to avoid alienating your team members (Treadway, 2009).
A good leader knows how to accomplish their goals by being clear about what they want, knowing what they are capable of and managing the different people within their organization (Mayer et al., 2009). They do not give up and will work hard to make sure that everything is done properly (Peiperl & Sanders, 2014).
You may feel as if the only way to get ahead in life is by climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a manager. While this might be true for some, there are other options such as entrepreneurship, consulting and starting a new business. This means that if you are interested in developing your leadership skills, it is a skill that can be used from the beginning of your career to the end (Peiperl & Sanders, 2014).