Leadership and Power

22 Mar 2022

What is leadership ? We are all connected to leaders every day, for example follow opinion leaders, listen to political leaders and work with your supervisors. When you become a leader then understanding leadership become relevant and important. Many people have conceptual idea of what is leader but they are ambiguous about what is leadership ?

Leadership is associated with many variables and the topic is wide. One article cannot describe all aspects of it. So let’s cut into a slice that is easy to understand the leadership concept. Hughes (2012) defined leadership as "a process of influencing a group of people to achieve an objective". When the objectives are achieved then leadership effectiveness is accomplished. That leader would have demonstrated leadership in that process.

Leadership is formed when a leader, followers and a situation come together at an intersection with interaction. A leader is shaped by his/her intelligence, skills, personality and experience etc... Followers are shaped by their mentors, skills, traits and level of motivation ect..A situation in which leadership occurred is uncertain and ambiguous, it is derived from the environmental context of political, economic, social and legal factors ect…. There are many dimensions and variables associated which are beyond this article. However, hopefully the cutting point is the beginning step to understand leadership.

What is Power in leadership ?

Leaders need to have power to influence their followers, Hughes (2012) defined power as the capacity to influence followers’ behaviours and attitudes. The larger the power the larger the capacity. Power are further break down as follows:

Expert power – This is deriving from knowledge, a person with unique knowledge can bring someone to the knee.  

Referent power – This flows from relationships with subordinates, A person can use referent power to put charming influence on followers to change their behaviours.

Legitimate power – This is related to organisational position, A CEO can lay down instructions and rules for employees to follow.

Reward power – A leader who has control over desired resources will have this power and attract people to facilitate action plan.

Coercive power – This is the capacity to administer sanctions or negative punishment to followers.

The above review of the concepts suggested that leadership involve complex process with many variables with interaction effects. The implication is that leadership does not stop in time, different situation and followers combinations arise any time and required leaders to understand the concepts and different scenarios to plan out the influence tactics to achieve consistent leadership effectiveness every time.         


Hughes, R, Ginnett, R & Curphy, G 2012, Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience, 7th edn, McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York

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Some of the most inspirational leaders are those that do not have the power or exercise it. We are all leaders and some of the best leaders lead by their actions not their words. Love this article 🙏
Interesting Article!
Thanks for an interesting article, never heard of leadership being broken down into those different categories before
Just as there are different types of power, I think there are many different types of "leaders" in our world too, as long as your followers trust you
I personally think it takes a lot to be a leader, you need to have a different kind of attitude naturally and how you communicate with others. It does come with experience but I feel like some people were born and raised to be leaders and some just weren't. That is just me though
Leadership is tricky with the potential power that comes with it. It can define a whole point in time whether done with good intent or not.
Yes, leaders are definitely not born, but made.
Don't Mind if I Do
Love it!
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