Login

Referent Power in Leadership: Definition & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Peter Senge on Leadership: Overview

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Referent Power in Leadership
  • 0:17 Definition of Referent Power
  • 1:58 Examples of Referent Power
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Referent power can be an effective means of leadership. In this lesson, you will learn what referent power is, some of its key concepts and be provided an example. You'll have a chance to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz after the lesson.

Referent Power in Leadership

Referent power can be an effective means of leadership. In this lesson, you will learn what referent power is, some of its key concepts and be provided an example. You'll have a chance to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz after the lesson.

Definition of Referent Power

Referent power in leadership is the ability of a leader to cultivate the respect and admiration of his followers in such a way that they wish to be like him. In other words, referent power is leading by example.

Referent power is based upon a leader modeling his behavior to demonstrate appropriate conduct and decision making. Employees will observe a manager's behavior and act as they believe their managers would act in the same situation. In other words, you refer to what you believe the manager would do and do the same; the manager becomes a point of reference for your behavior. You may not even know that you are modeling your behavior after your manager.

As you can imagine, this type of power relies heavily upon the trust of employees in their manager and developing employee empowerment: allowing employees to make decisions in certain work situations. Trust and enabling employee empowerment takes some time to develop. Consequently, referent power may not work well in organizations with high rates of turnover of employees.

It is important for a manager to be aware of cultural differences when attempting to use referent power. For example, according to some theorists, the general cultural value of egalitarianism in America may make it harder for managers to earn the respect of American employees. Instead of seeking respect, managers dealing with American employees may attempt to increase their likeability, which is often more effective with American workers. Americans tend to identify with people they like and who they feel liked by in return. Employees from other cultures may identify with managers they respect and who they feel respected by.

Examples of Referent Power

Let's say you are the third generation owner of a small family business that your grandfather started 60 years ago in a small city in the Midwestern U.S. You have employees who have been with the company for decades. In fact, you have employed multiple generations of employees from the same families and who are products of the close-knit culture you and your family have developed.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support