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The Powers of Leadership

It’s funny that John Minnich stole my subject. Good for him, but bad for me. His thoughts were correct; however, when you choose your style, which will change based upon situation and subordinates, you also need to understand the influence that comes along with the styles.

Knowing your leadership style is not enough; you must also know how to motivate others. Using the most accepted definition of leadership: “Leadership is the process of influencing others to accomplish a task by providing purpose, direction and motivation.” Over the course of five installments I will be discussing the Five Powers of Leadership.

The true key to leadership are the 3 elements ... purpose, direction and motivation.

Motivation is the difficult of the three elements. What does it take to motivate someone? How can one influence another?

These are questions that all leaders wrestle with every day. What I have learned and what I teach is that influence is power and power comes in five forms: Lawful, Reward, Referent, Expert and Coercive. Each of these powers, if used properly, are effective tools to motivate others.

While most of these forms of influence are self-explanatory, it helps to review a little.

Reward Power is the power leaders use to reward exceptional behavior or actions. If used too often it can become watered down; however if used effectively, it will help motivate your followers to try and achieve more than they would normally try to achieve. Who doesn’t want a little more time off, a little extra in the paycheck one month or even a just the positive recognition that you can give publicly to a subordinate for exceptional performance? That’s why rewards are so very important. It allows others to see what you have achieved.

A word of warning: The Reward must be something that the receiver desires. Everyone desires something different. Some want money, time off, and trophies. Each person wants something a little different. I have noticed through my experience and associations an effective reward program will motivate the individual to go beyond his/her known limits whether they are physical or mental.

SFC(Ret) Alan Conrad,
JROTC Instructor