Reward Power in Leadership: Definition & Example

Reward Power in Leadership: Definition & Example
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  • 0:01 Definition & Key Concepts
  • 1:30 Example
  • 2:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
In this lesson, you'll learn about reward power and its important concepts and then be provided an example to illustrate it. You'll have an opportunity to reinforce your knowledge with a short quiz after the lesson.

Definition and Key Concepts

Reward power is simply the power of a manager to give some type of reward to an employee as a means to influence the employee to act.

Rewards can be tangible or intangible. The key distinction between a tangible reward and an intangible reward is that tangible rewards are physical things, while intangible rewards are not. Examples of tangible rewards include monetary awards, wage or salary increases, bonuses, plaques, certificates, and gifts.

Intangible rewards can also be effective. Examples of intangible rewards include praise, positive feedback, recognition, more responsibility including a rise in status, and even a well-timed 'thank-you.' An obvious advantage to intangible rewards is that they can be as effective as tangible rewards and cost relatively nothing.

Reward power does have some disadvantages. Employees may be tempted to engage in unethical or illegal behavior to meet the criteria to earn the reward. For example, an unscrupulous salesman may engage in fraud to induce customers to purchase, in order to meet the production level required for a bonus. Reward power may also create competition between employees that is counter-productive, hurting teamwork and group productivity. Employees may also focus their attention away from their jobs and focus their attention on obtaining rewards, even at the cost of poor work quality. For example, members of an assembly line may work sloppily in order to work more quickly to meet production goals for an award.

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