Types of Power

Power is the ability to influence, and it comes in many forms:

  • Legitimate power comes from the pecking order. Legitimate power can be limited, because subordinates sometimes comply without really agreeing.
  • Reward power comes from the ability to write a paycheck or give attention and affection.
  • Expert power comes from having the answers.
  • Coercive power comes from threats. Coercive power can invite undermining.
  • Charismatic power comes from being likeable. Charismatic leaders cultivate power that is internalized, so their agenda as well as their enthusiasm can get a lot of momentum. Charismatic power is the most persuasive because it comes from an internal process.  
  • Dormant power is any of the above if unused. Dormant power can yield resentment.

Identify and describe the type of power you use in your personal life and the type of power you have used at work. Is there another type of power that would be more effective in any of those situations? Why or why not?