The 6 Bases of Power

How and why people respond to leadership is an on-going study. It is true enough that we all have triggers which inspire a response to leadership that may vary from circumstance to circumstance, but those triggers do exist.

On the side of the person doing the leading, the central concept of leadership as a reality lies in the effectiveness of that leader in calling out a response from within followers. If no response occurs, leadership has not happened. The fault may lie with the leader, with the follower, or with both.

The subject is much too comprehensive to explore within the confines of a few hundred words in a blog post or a few minutes within a video presentation. But we can explore the practice of leadership a piece at a time.

When I began the Power Plays series, I emphasized that leadership is active, not passive. Power must come from somewhere and be applied to someone if something is to happen. Power, therefore, becomes a subject worthy of examination.

Power has an essence – The ability to affect others is what it is all about. Some people possess an innate leadership gift. Others listen to and respond to what they say, what they infer, who they are.

Power has an objective – The ability to act, to get something done lies at the core. The active as opposed to the passive mode shows up here. Movement and progress sit just ahead as targets. Leadership is not exemplified by a weapon displayed in a case. It aims, fires, and hopefully, hits that target.

Power has a presence – the ability to command to action proves that leadership is happening from someone somehow. In my book, 3 Essential Skills of Effective Leaders, this is skill number 3. Yogi Berra said “Leadership is easy. It’s getting people to follow that is the hard part.”

Put all 3 together, it is called INFLUENCE – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone, or the effect itself. We as leaders and managers must have an impact.

In the context of this blog, then, let me begin a new mini-series, a series within a series – The 6 Bases of Power.

What are the bases of power in the context of society, organizations, businesses, and institutions? Power, as it manifests itself, is seldom singular. It is often the blend of more than one basis, but there are 6 we can identify and separate:

Official power – I occupy an office or position and it gives me the authority to exercise power.

Transactional power – I will pay you, I will reward you, if and when you do what I want, what I have hired you to do.

Coercive power – I will penalize you in some way if you do not follow.

Knowledge power – I know what needs to be done and how to solve your problem.

Charismatic power – I am a well-known celebrity so I must know what I’m talking about.

Principle-centered power – I am a person of integrity and character which inspires and motivates others.

The next six posts will elaborate on each. And…

I have something new and different.

Videos! That’s right. I have plunged head first into the world of internet video. The first one is right here. It can also be found on my Youtube channel. Please check it out, then subscribe to the channel here to get a notice of when a new one is posted.

I also want to thank you for being a faithful reader. The month of August saw the second highest number of unique visitors to ever, surpassed only slightly by the month of May. I started adding regular posts to this blog less than one year ago and the response has been much greater than I expected.

So Thank you!


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