In 1959, the social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven carried out a comprehensive study into leadership power. In this work and its subsequent revisions, they identified six bases of leadership power.
These provide a useful framework for understanding leadership power and how to use it within the workplace.
Different types of power have varying levels of effectiveness. This is dependent on the situation as well as the people involved.
All leaders demonstrate at least one of these types at any time.
Formal types of power depend on the exertion of power through an appointed or elected position. French and Raven’s examples are coercive, reward and legitimate power.
Personal powers are intrinsic to the person and are related to reputation, rather than the position held in a company – for example, referent, expert and informational power.
Further explanation of these is covered below.
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