How to use Your Influence as a Leader
By Katie Kabat
Power can be utilised as a tool or a weapon, depending on how you are treating it. It is important for a leader to make sure that they use their power in a way so that they can encourage and lead their employees rather than tearing them down. Effective leadership includes the ability to invite others to share the responsibility and promote a general feeling of productivity. To influence others in a positive way is what the good leadership requires. There are 4 different types of leadership power that brings the best out of those being led.
In practice, coercive power looks like coercing people do what you want by threatening some form of punishment if they don’t comply. The best example is crime. The threat of being caught and punished is the only thing which is stopping people from committing crime constantly. However, there are settings where coercive power is not as effective. If you are using coercive power to implement your agendas over others then you are not leading, as much as intimidating. Also, using intimidation to influence others is not the best practice. The colleague you intimidate today could be the one whose support you desperately need tomorrow.
Within an organisation’s hierarchy legitimate power is derived from a formal position. It usually does with the authority to make demands and expect others to be compliant. However, this power may also conferred upon you by someone with even greater authority, which can be a little tricky. Notably, if you combine legitimate power with coercive power, you might be invited to tender your letter of resignation sooner or later, so tread lightly. The people you lead will most likely give you more effort if you treat them with respect.
CEOs like In-N-Out Burger’s Lynsi Snyder and Southwest Airlines’ Gary Kelly are so beloved by their employees because they show appreciation and invite workers to contribute their best efforts to the company.
Expert power comes from hard earned knowledge or skillset that others can rely on. Leaders with expert power have experience and have earned respect in their respective field. Their peers hardly disagree with them and trust them to make the best decision. Although, it is important to remember that anyone can fall victim to a big ego. You must also have soft skills and respect to be able to maintain the expert power.
Referent power should be a goal of every leader. It uses interpersonal connections and soft skills to unite people in a common mission. This can commonly seen within activist leaders, coaches and teachers. They use their influence to inspire others. These types of leaders often have compelling interpersonal skills and rousing advocacy for what they believe in. Not only do they complete the goal they are working towards, but they also often inspire others to do something similar or act the same way.
Leadership is not for everyone, but those who lead have an immensely important role in our society. So, knowing how to lead in every situation you’re in can be a useful skill for life.