Legitimate Power in Leadership: Definition & Example

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What is Executive Presence? - Definition & Examples

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

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Definition of Legitimate Power
  • 0:53 Advantages and…
  • 2:41 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

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

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Legitimacy in leadership is one of the most important concepts in leadership and management. In this lesson, you will learn what legitimate power is. You'll also see an example of how an effective leader can augment legitimate authority.

Definition of Legitimate Power

Legitimate power is power you derive from your formal position or office held in the organization's hierarchy of authority. For example, the president of a corporation has certain powers because of the office he holds in the corporation.

Like most power, legitimate power is based upon perception and reality. It is based on the reality that a person holds a particular position in an organization. It's also based on the perception of an employee that someone holding that position has authority to exert control over her. Legitimate power as a source of authority has one distinct advantage over many other sources of authority, which is that it is usually based upon some objective rule or law of the organization.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Legitimate Power

Let's go back to the example of the president of a corporation. He derives his power from the office he holds, but it is the corporation's bylaws that outline and limit the president's duties, obligations, and authority along with any specific directives given to him by the board of directors. The power of the office is usually not arbitrary and undefined, and the leader is regulated and controlled by organizational rules. This adds to the leader's legitimate authority.

Legitimate power is not without a disadvantage. While legitimate power can help ensure employee compliance with a manager's orders, it does not necessarily provide a basis for employee loyalty to either the manager or the corporation. A wise manager will seek to supplement his legitimate authority with other forms of power, such as referent power, expert power, or charismatic power, which may help build loyalty.

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

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 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 risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account