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Who is a Leader?

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

"The mediocre teacher says. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher proves. The great teacher inspires." - William Arthur Ward

This chapter examines the definition of a leader and the sources of power. You will acknowledge that leaders can be in either informal or formal organizations. In this case, it would be essential to decide how they get to be influential to their subordinates.

In this chapter, you will learn what a leader is.

What are the various forms of power that leaders can make use of?

  • Coercive power
  • Legitimate power
  • Reward power
  • Charismatic power
  • Expert power
  • Information power
  • Referent power

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or conclude you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." - Colin Powell.

A leader is an individual who influences a group of people to act in a certain way to reach a specific goal. In this case, leadership is the process by which an individual enlists the support and aid of other people to conduct a common goal or purpose. It is the creation of infrastructure for individuals to contribute towards reaching a predetermined plan.

Of course, leadership can be defined as effective or ineffective. Effective oversight would be our primary concern, as being able to influence legions of people is only desirable when it is for the right course.

Effective leadership incorporates the ability to integrate as well as Successfully perfect the use of the resources that are at your disposal, whether in the internal or external environment, to reach societal or organizational goals.

She is standing out among many.

Acknowledging that administration does not always have to incorporate formal authority is essential. Many theories abide by the aspects of leadership. However, there are unique powers that an individual must have to influence their followers or peers or even control the available resources.

A leader must consider being successful and incorporate effective use of these powers to influence subordinates or followers. Leaders must understand power's utility to enhance their leadership strength.

There are various forms of power, including:

Coercive power

This is the power an individual derives from their ability to punish their followers. In most cases, these powers are held by leaders in organizations, in which case they can permanently suspend their followers, employees, or subordinates.

One thing you can be sure of is that, as much as this power guarantees one a good following, it does not always come with love or respect. In most cases, the subordinates follow the individual not on their own will, volition, or incentive but out of fear of reprisal. Often, individuals are loathed when they apply this type of power to their subordinates. However, that does not undermine its utility in ensuring that the goal of an organization is reached or a quality job is done.

Legitimate power

This type is common within organizational structures only. In this case, individuals will only have as much energy as their position in the organization, group, or team allows them to. This points to the element of hierarchy in the organization, as the higher the role of an individual, the more power they have.

Working together to find solutions

Reward power

Also, most common in formal organizations or institutions, the emphasis is held by a leader who can

Give rewards to individuals under them. In most cases, these rewards are awarded to the associates who have performed well and could be in the form of promotions or a raise in their pay. In this case, they will be able to influence the actions of their subordinates simply because of the carrot they are floating.

In cases where the reward system is for individuals, you may have individuals pulling in different directions to outwit each other. This has the effect of rallying the people around the same goal or purpose. As much as it would still get the job done, sometimes it creates conflicts when the reward infrastructure is not considered fair. In this case, it could divide the group instead of uniting them in instances where favoritism is incorporated.

Charismatic power

Individuals can hold this power in formal and informal organizations. In this case, the leader's ability to appeal to their followers' feelings guarantees them instant loyalty, love, and even an element of fanaticism.

A leader can positively influence followers through charisma, mainly in speeches. The followers can identify with the leader, creating an element of interpersonal influence. The leader's ability to tag the followers' feelings confers in them a great deal of power. This can be one of the most influential powers in getting the job done.

Expert power

This could also be in informal or formal organizations. In this case, the individual holds a semblance of control due to their abilities, skills, experience, knowledge, or abilities. A manager, therefore, must keep some power that other people do not have to remain relevant as a leader. This leader is always an asset to the organization or society in which they apply their skills and ability.

Information power

This is not entirely different from expert control. However, in this case, the leader has valuable information to enhance the organization's functioning or attain societal goals. You will note that this power does not come with the hierarchy, as individuals in lower echelons of the order could hold more information power. This does not mean it has less power. It is recognized as one of the most natural forms of energy as it derives its viability from knowledge.

Referent power

This power derives from an individual's association with another. It is not always a very dependable form of energy, especially as far as influencing people toward a common goal is concerned. In this case, you will have individuals going by the terms deputy or assistant.

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