Leadership: The Uses of Power


Power can be used in many ways. Three outcomes potentially result when a leader tries to exert power—Commitment, Compliance, and Resistance. These outcomes depend on the leader’s base of power, how that base is operationalized, and the subordinate’s individual characteristics.

Commitment probably will result from the attempt to exercise power if the subordinate accepts and identifies with the leader. Such an employee will be highly motivated by requests that seem important to the leader. A committed subordinate will work just as hard as the leader to complete the project, even if that means working overtime.

Compliance means the subordinate is willing to carry out the leader’s wishes as long as doing so will not require extra effort and energy. Thus, the subordinate may work at a reasonable pace but refuse to work overtime, insisting that the job will still be there tomorrow. Many ordinary requests from a boss and the subsequent responses of subordinates fit this description.

Resistance occurs when the subordinate fights the leader’s wishes. A resistant subordinate may even deliberately neglect the project to ensure that it is not done as the leader wants.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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