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Personal Power

Robert Purcell, Sherri Hartzell
  • Author
    Robert Purcell
  • Instructor
    Sherri Hartzell

    Sherri has taught college business and communication courses. She also holds three degrees including communications, business, educational leadership/technology.

Understand what personal power is and how it is used in leadership. Explore the two main types of personal power and read an information power definition. Updated: 05/03/2022

Managerial Power

Managerial power is a manager's ability to influence their desires concerning remuneration decisions that the board of directors has formulated. Managerial power is gained from affluent sources such as; personality, whereby the manager can influence their subordinates due to reputation and charisma. In this case, the subordinates appreciate the manager's personality traits and accord him the required respect as their head. Also, expertise is another source of managerial power in which a manager derives power from their know-how and expertise. Thus, the individual who exercises their expertise will tend to acknowledge and recognize him as their head in that field.

Additionally, coercion is another source of managerial power, and it deals with the application of physical force in influencing subordinates. Coercion is mainly applied in the military and in instances of industrial action. Affluent managers apply various sources of power at ago. Managerial power outlines that high-level executives possess the power to develop unequal bargaining power that, in turn, generates market inefficiencies leading to excessive compensation that does not rhyme with the performance. Managerial power is essential in ensuring workers' compliance and commitment. Also, it promotes assists in eliminating resistance among the workers and ensuring their harmonious coexistence leading to increased productivity. There are two types of managerial power: personal power and positional power. These two types of power are essential in essential in successful management.

Managerial Power

You may recall that power can be defined as a person's ability to influence others. Effective managers know how to use their power to influence the behavior of organizational members. A manager obtains his or her power from both the organization (positional power) and from themselves (personal power). The key to successful management lies in using a combination of positional power and personal power. This lesson focuses on the second type of power: personal power.

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  • 0:06 Managerial Power
  • 0:38 Personal Power
  • 1:10 Referent Power
  • 2:14 Expert Power
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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What is Personal Power?

The definition of personal power denotes the ability to exert influence over events and individuals. In this case, personal power is the power that emanates from individual traits instead of formal authority. Personal power is independent of the organization and is about the personality and knowledge of the individual. This power is deemed more of a state of mind whereby individuals with strong personal power tend to focus on their abilities and efficacies for cooperation with others. What is personal power in leadership? In leadership, personal power refers to an individual's power based on their characteristics, competencies, skills, and other personal attributes. Hence, this power contains the ability to motivate and inspire others.

Moreover, managers that hold personal power attract the commitment of their subordinates. Personal power consists of two bases that include; expert power and referent power. Expert power enables the managers to influence subordinates' behaviors through their experience and special knowledge concerning the role in which the subordinates are responsible for performing. A manager becomes a holder of expert power by understanding the performance of tasks related to the job that subordinates are required to know. On the other hand, referent power is generated from the adoration and respect of the manager by their subordinates. This power is seen when the workers identify themselves with the managers they admire. However, referent power is mainly expressed by charismatic leaders who possess the ability to induce followership passion due to their magnetic personalities.

Referent Power

Referent power is a form of power derived from the leader's ability to influence and inspire others. Also, referent power is the adoration and respect accorded to the managers by their subordinates. In this light, this power is derived from how individuals like, admire, and respect a certain leader. Thus, charismatic leaders employ referent power to inspire and attracts subordinate. In this light, the referent powers generate strong connections between managers and followers. This is because referent power unites the teams' members, thus improving productivity. Referent power inspires the employees to work hard to achieve their set goals. Also, Referent power enables the leader to employ their personal qualities and interpersonal skills to convert the subordinates into loyal followers. This is because the followers aspire to gain the approval of their leaders by imitating the ways their leaders express, think, and behave. In this light, the subordinate views their leader as a role model.

Therefore, referent power improves the retention rate of employees since motivated employees are less likely to the organization. Referent power forms a positive, trusting relationship among the employees because referent leaders are supportive and encouraging. Referent leaders are always willing to generate innovative solutions to the challenges experienced by their subordinates. This minimizes employees' stress points and anxiety. An example of referent power is a leader who is respected and admired by the subordinate in an organization. The subordinates view the leader as their role model.

Expert Power

Expert power denotes the influence that leaders possess on their subordinates due to their specialized skills, knowledge, and experience. Expert power makes the subordinate perceive that the leader possesses a high level of knowledge in expertise. Thus, this perception makes the leader have a greater influence and power in the workplace. Managers with expert power create a bold statement among employees since they apprehend that it provides the necessary direction that will ultimately gear success. Expert power streamlines the business decisions since expert power equips the leader to make informed decisions in the organization. Also, expert power avails a great opportunity for career development.

Personal Power

Personal power is independent from the position a manager holds in an organization and rests solely in the individual. Things such as a manager's personality and special knowledge make personal power a useful resource for managers to use when trying to influence subordinates. Subordinates become committed to their managers that hold personal power. There are two main bases of personal power, which include referent power and expert power.

Referent Power

Referent power is the result of subordinate respect and adoration for the manager and is seen when an employee seeks to identify with the manager with whom they admire. Referent power is commonly seen in charismatic leaders who are able to invoke a passion for followership due to the leader's magnetic personality. Subordinates are willing to follow their manager's requests simply because of the manner in which they deal with and treat subordinates. For example, Kelly thinks that Jack is a great manager who is easy to talk to and has always done a good job of treating her like an equal. When Jack asks Kelly to work overtime, she agrees without hesitation because she has seen Jack stay late on numerous occasions and she wants to do what she thinks will please Jack.

Followership is not based on rewards or punishment; rather, it is based on subordinates' belief that the manager is a good leader because of a charismatic and caring leadership style.

Expert Power

Expert power allows a manager to influence the behaviors of subordinates through their special knowledge, experience or skills relating to the work the subordinates must perform. Being an expert makes a bold statement to employees that the manager knows what they are doing and can provide the necessary direction for how the subordinates can be successful themselves. Essentially, the manager holds expert power by knowing or understanding how to do job-related tasks that the subordinates need to know.

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Video Transcript

Managerial Power

You may recall that power can be defined as a person's ability to influence others. Effective managers know how to use their power to influence the behavior of organizational members. A manager obtains his or her power from both the organization (positional power) and from themselves (personal power). The key to successful management lies in using a combination of positional power and personal power. This lesson focuses on the second type of power: personal power.

Personal Power

Personal power is independent from the position a manager holds in an organization and rests solely in the individual. Things such as a manager's personality and special knowledge make personal power a useful resource for managers to use when trying to influence subordinates. Subordinates become committed to their managers that hold personal power. There are two main bases of personal power, which include referent power and expert power.

Referent Power

Referent power is the result of subordinate respect and adoration for the manager and is seen when an employee seeks to identify with the manager with whom they admire. Referent power is commonly seen in charismatic leaders who are able to invoke a passion for followership due to the leader's magnetic personality. Subordinates are willing to follow their manager's requests simply because of the manner in which they deal with and treat subordinates. For example, Kelly thinks that Jack is a great manager who is easy to talk to and has always done a good job of treating her like an equal. When Jack asks Kelly to work overtime, she agrees without hesitation because she has seen Jack stay late on numerous occasions and she wants to do what she thinks will please Jack.

Followership is not based on rewards or punishment; rather, it is based on subordinates' belief that the manager is a good leader because of a charismatic and caring leadership style.

Expert Power

Expert power allows a manager to influence the behaviors of subordinates through their special knowledge, experience or skills relating to the work the subordinates must perform. Being an expert makes a bold statement to employees that the manager knows what they are doing and can provide the necessary direction for how the subordinates can be successful themselves. Essentially, the manager holds expert power by knowing or understanding how to do job-related tasks that the subordinates need to know.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the definition of personal power?

Personal power refers to the influencing ability of events and people, and it solely rests within the individual. Personal power involves the unique knowledge and the ability of a manager.

What is an example of personal power?

An example of personal power includes when an employee attains their personal goal and the company, in return, grants him a token as a form of recognition and appreciation. In this case, personal power is generated when individuals reward their followers after timely and efficient task completion.

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