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Five Bases of Power by John French and Bertram H. Raven

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In 1959, social psychologists John R. P. French and Bertram H. Raven identified five sources or forms of power from which a person gets power. These sources are now known as French and Raven's Five Bases of Power.

five bases of power

The French and Raven's five bases of power are briefly explained as follows:-

1. Referent Power

Referent power is also called as personal power, chairismatic power, and the power of personality. This power comes from each leader individually. It is the personality of a person that attracts followers. People follow because they are influenced or attracted by the magnetic personality of the leader. The followers admire their leaders and may even try to copy their behaviour, dress, etc. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi are the examples of leaders with referent power.

2. Legitimate Power

Legitimate power is also known as position power and official power. It comes from the higher authority. In an organisation, a manager gets power because of his position or post. It gives him the power to control resources and to reward and punish others. For e.g. a chief executive officer (C.E.O) of a company gets legitimate powers because of the position which he holds.

3. Expert Power

Expert power is also known as the power of knowledge. It comes from expert knowledge and skills. Expert power means the expert influences another person's behaviour. This is because the expert has knowledge and skill which the other person needs but does not possess. Persons like doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc., have expert power because they have expert knowledge and skills, which others require.

4. Coercive Power

Coercive power is the ability to punish others or to pose a threat to others. Coercive power uses fear as a motivator. The leaders or managers with coercive powers can threaten an employee's job security, cut his pay, withdraw certain facilities, suspend him, etc. The coercive power may have an impact in the short-run. It will create a negative impact on the receiver.

5. Reward Power

Reward power is opposite to coercive power. With the help of reward power, the leader tries to motivate the followers to improve their performance. This power enables the leader to provide additional facilities, increase in pay, promotion of the subordinates, etc. The reward power also enables the leader to recognise the services of the subordinate through appreciation.

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