Applying French and Raven�s Bases of Social Power: A Powerful Solution
Throughout history, people have told stories of leaders who have been corrupted by their power. The very
definition of leadership as �a process by which an individual influences the group to achieve a common
goal� (Northouse, 2013, p. 5) implies the power to exert influence. Leaders must exert power in order to
lead. But they must also strive to understand the complexities of power. Research by French and Raven
and by others provides insight on the types, or bases, of power available to a leader, the process of
choosing among those bases, and the motivations for leaders� choices. Recent research also explores
the effectiveness of using individual bases of power in particular situations and the effects the use of
certain bases of powers have on leaders and those they lead. Armed with this information, leaders can
avoid utilizing certain bases of power when the choice may lead to negative consequences. They can
instead choose to wield power in ways that will foster organizational success. Understanding the bases
also gives both leaders and followers insight into situations they observe and difficult interpersonal
interactions they negotiate.
Use this format to complete the paper.
Essay Style of Writing
Start with an introduction with thesis statement, three supporting points, and a conclusion. All essays
should include at least 5 paragraphs or sections.
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP 2
Paragraph 1: Introduction with thesis statement that includes three supporting points.
Paragraph 2: Discussion of supporting point 1 includes support using cited reference.
Paragraph 3: Discussion of supporting point 2 includes support using cited reference.
Leaders have the responsibility to act as role models in guiding their followers in the
quest to achieve their goals. Various theories postulated illustrate how leaders act and should
lead. One of the famous researchers is French and Raven’s who came up with various bases of
power to depict how different leaders execute their leadership responsibilities. This paper
delineates on the French and Ravens two bases of power; reward and legitimate power putting
into perspective a case study, “Three shifts, Three supervisors.”
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP 3
The case study “Three Shifts, Three Supervisors” is about three leaders that work in
shifts. Every leader has his or her style of leadership and this affects the motivation and the
performance of the workers. A leader that adopts to rewards a source of power uses intangible as
well as tangible rewards to influence the followers. Such a leader makes promise in exchange of
something (Raven, 1993). Therefore, followers are required to do or behave in a certain manner
to get the reward promised. On the other hand, legitimate power is where a leader is given
power by a given body to execute certain responsibilities. This form of powers comes from the
higher position and there is a tendency for people to obey the position not individuals.
Based on the path-goal theory, it is evident that Carol is a more effective leader
compared to the other two Art and Bob. Being a leader Carol behaviors enhances or contributes
to motivated followers. She exemplifies directive leadership as she ensures that the followers
understand what should be done and how to do it. She holds trouble-shooting meetings and
stresses the goals of the company to the employees and as well, the rewards that comes when the
goals are achieved. She is also a supportive leader as she encourages her employees and spends
time with them to build their morale. Therefore, she is an effective supervisor in the company.
She also to some extend uses legitimate power because, she has been given the position by the
managers and is answerable to them. On the other hand, the other two supervisors, Art and Bob
do not demonstrate directive leadership. Their group or followers are not motivated and this is
attributed to the way they interact and execute their responsibilities as leaders. Art leadership
approach is more task- oriented and this makes the followers more bored. Even though to some
extend Bob exemplifies supportive leadership style, the followers lack direction on what they
should do. They therefore lack focus and this affects their ability to achieve the goals set.
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP 4
Perhaps it is wise for Art and Bob to engage and interact with their followers and as well, use
rewards to motivate their employees.
It is therefore, evident that these two bases of power; reward and legitimate can be used
to exert influence on the followers. A leader endowed with legitimate power is able to use the
powers to trigger changes in an organization. For instance, a police officer is given legitimate
power from his office and is required to execute his roles in line with the power given to him by
the state. Reward power is also used to influence followers especially to trigger positive results.
Leaders can make promises to trigger hard work and as well to punish those that fail to achieve
the set targets. French and Raven theory can as well be used to solve some of the problems in
the case. For instance, the problem of Bob of failure to motivate and offer direction to his
followers can be corrected if he acquires more skills and information about various ways to
motivate employees and as well to show them direction.
In summary, leaders can use different leadership bases to execute their responsibilities.
French and Raven’s leadership bases; reward and legitimate power can be used to lead and
influence followers. Carol is one of the supervisor and a leader that uses directive and supportive
leadership styles. She is also able to aply her legitimate power well to motivate her followers. On
the other hand, Art and Bob have failed when it comes to motivating and showing direction to
their followers. They can apply reward power to motivate their followers to ensure achievement
of the organizational goals.
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP 5
Raven, B. H. (1993). The bases of power: Origins and recent developments. Journal of Social
Issues, 49(4), 227–251.