Referent Power

The power of holding the ability to administer to another feelings of personal acceptance or personal approval (Hinkin & Schriesheim, 1989). This type of power is strong enough that the power-holder is often looked up to as a role model (Raven, 1988). This power is often looked at as admiration, or charm. The power derives from one person having an overall likability leading people to strongly identify with them in one form or another. A person with this type of power generally makes people feel good around them therefore one has a lot of influence. The responsibility involved is heavy and one can easily lose this power, but when combined with other forms of power it can be very useful. Celebrities often have this type of power in society on the flip side they also often lose it quickly in some circumstances.

Figure describes Referent Power

Example of Referent Power in society

Referent Power means the power or ability of individuals to attract others and build loyalty. It's based on the charisma and interpersonal skills of the power holder. A person may be admired because of specific personal trait and this admiration creates the opportunity for interpersonal influence. Here the person under power desires to identify with these personal qualities and gains satisfaction from being an accepted follower. Nationalism or Patriotism counts towards an intangible sort of referent power as well. For example, soldiers fight in wars to defend the honor of the country. This is the second least obvious power, but the most effective. Advertisers have long recognized referent power in making use of sports figures for products endorsements, for example. The charismatic appeal of the sports star supposedly leads to an acceptance of the endorsement, although the individual may have little real credibility outside the sports arena.

Expert Power

The ability to administer to another information, knowledge or expertise (French & Raven 1959). Leaders who possess this type of power have high intelligence and rely on their ability to perform various organizational tasks and functions. This power makes one able to combine the power of reward in the correct fashion. When someone has the expertise in an organization people are more convinced to trust them and to respect what they stand for. When your expertise is valued, so are your ideas and leadership.

Figure gives Expert Power definition

Expert Power is an individual's power deriving from the skills or expertise of the person and the organization's needs for those skills and expertise. Unlike the others, this type of power is usually highly specific and limited to the particular area in which the expert is trained and qualified.

Forms and Sources of Power in Organizations may be summarized below:

French and Raven identified 5 forms of interpersonal power that managers use to influence other people and employees. The 5 forms are:

Reward Power

- Based on the agent's ability to control the rewards that a target wants.

Coercive Power

- Based on an agent's ability to cause the target or individual to have distasteful experience used often with threats or punishment.

Legitimate Power

- Similar to authority.

- Based on position and mutual agreement.

- Both agree that the agent has the right to influence.

Referent Power

- Based on interpersonal attraction between the agent and the target.

- The agent has this power over the target because the target wants to be like the agent.

- Agents who use referent power are often individualistic and are greatly respected by the target.

Expert Power

- Exists when an agent has information that the target needs.

- Three conditions must be met for expert power to work.

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