Table 1

Power bases and their relation to outcomes76

Power baseExamplePossible outcome
Commitment and
LegitimateFormal organisational leadership position; deserving the position matters for followersPossible—if request is polite and very appropriate, situation is urgent or represents an enhancementLikely—if request or order is seen as legitimate/beneficialPossible—if arrogant demands are made or request does not appear proper, risk has not been appreciated
RewardPerformance reviews, raises, promotions, awardsPossible—if used in subtle, very personal way, if reward is valuedLikely—if used in a mechanical, impersonal wayPossible—if used in a manipulative, arrogant way
CoercivePunishment/fear/bullying; usually results in disrespect/distrustVery unlikelyPossible—if used in a helpful, non-punitive wayLikely—if used in a hostile or manipulative way; compliance is a violation of values or beliefs
ExpertSkills, knowledge and experience; sustained with maintenance of competenciesLikely—if request is persuasive and constituents share leader’s task goalsPossible—if request is persuasive but constituents are apathetic about task goalsPossible—if leader is arrogant or insulting, or constituents oppose task goals
ReferentMost important and real power; quality of relationship/how built; dependent on personal traits and values: honesty, integrity, trustworthiness and reliabilityLikely, if request is believed to be important to leaderPossible—if request is perceived to be unimportant to leaderPossible—if request is for something that will bring harm to the leader
Other power base (not recognised in the original framework by French and Raven)
InformationMay or may not be transient power (may dissipate when information is given away or may build credibility as a trusted source of relevant information)Likely—if information is extremely important for the constituent for task at hand and personal goals/career growthLikely—if information is important for the constituent for completing the taskPossible—if information is no longer relevant or if competing demands have a higher priority
  • Adapted (with permission) from Gary Yukl, Leadership in Organizations (1998, p 44).

  • *Resistance may include opposition and workaround strategies.