Coercive, Reward and Legitimate Power

Coercive power, reward power, legitimate power, referent power, and expert power are used in many organizations. I have had enough life experience to identify each and know that I have experienced all of them. Coercive power in the form of employee handbooks and by-laws within the organization are the most obvious forms I can recall. Reward Power takes place when you use safety bonuses, fuel bonuses, or some other form of reward to influence certain behaviors. Legitimate power comes when you appoint someone and state the scope of their authority within an organization. Reverent power comes in the form of a charismatic leader who can influence the behavior of people through their actions and speech. Expert power comes from having the wisdom, knowledge, and talent relevant to the tasks and identified and respected by those involved and comes with a lot of weight when it comes to decision making. In my experience, most of these power theories are a mix of need and ego-driven. For example, a 30 year veteran in my workplace is going to have the skills that are needed for training and passing on knowledge while also finding personal satisfaction and clout from being able to do so. This can apply to each of these theories.

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