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5 Shades of Power by Dr. Drea Zigarmi

Jason Diamond Arnold

April 27, 2018

Organizations are moving from a hierarchical reporting structure to a flat structure. This evolution on workplace reporting and accountability is having a major impact on how we perceive power and the use of power within this clash between traditional and modern reporting structures. Relative to leadership, power is slowly being distributed to employees as leaders continue to spread leadership culture in their organizations. As this redistribution takes place, leaders who still rely on power to influence their colleagues and teams, may find themselves dismayed or even blind to the impact their traditional mindset is ineffective within the new workplace.

#5ShadesofPower by Drea Zigarmi explains how the different shades of power influence leadership development, decision-making and culture in an organization.Tweet This!

Leadership development and the influence of power in an organization go hand-in-hand. At the ATD 2018 International Conference and Exposition next month, Organizational Leadership Expert & Author, Dr. Drea Zigarmi will discuss how power influences leadership and the ways it can impact an organization in his presentation, The 5 Shades of Power: The Organizational Taboo.

Oxford Dictionary defines power as “...the ability to direct or influence others or the course of events.” This ability is why understanding power and the effects it has on the individuals that make up an organization benefit the progress of leadership development.

In his presentation, Dr. Zigarmi discusses how having effective leadership means being able to shape the behavior of others through the effective use of power in today’s organizations:

Power’s Influence on an Organization

Dr. Zigarmi explains the physical “shades” of power and how they influence leadership in an organization:

  • Coercive Power – punishing someone if there is failure to comply (Example: A performance write up, imposed training, or demotion)
  • Reward Power – a promise of some sort of compensation (Example: A bonus or a trophy)
  • Legitimate power – the leader’s position related to other leaders in the organization (Example: A manager vs the CEO; the CEO would have legitimate power)
  • Expert power – trusting someone based on their expert knowledge in a given field or area of study (Example: Asking a doctor for medical advice because you perceive that he has more knowledge regarding medicine)
  • Referent power – building respect by not using position or power to control individuals or events or do things outside the norms of the organization or team

Each of the the five shades of power can be divided into categories that help define how power and leadership work together.

The Research Behind Power

Dr. Drea Zigarmi and Dr. Taylor Peyton Roberts conducted research on the influence of power to understand how it affects people.

“We conducted three investigations into power to understand how power affects the feelings of individuals, their motivational outlook as well as their basic psychological needs.” - Dr. Drea Zigarmi

One of the most significant discoveries in the research explains the 5 Shades of Power with respect to a leader’s ability to handle specific situations. The results conclude that managers who know the effect of certain types of power, it will significantly improve their individual leadership abilities.

“The study suggests that managers can clearly impact employee affect or feelings by their use of power. Bases of power like Coercive and Legitimate Power can result in negative affect and ultimately effect positive intentions toward the organization, while Expert and Referent Power result in more positive effects and in turn enhance the positive intentions of the individuals they are attempting to lead.” says Dr. Zigarmi.

How Power Impacts the Workplace

The major questions posed by Dr. Zigarmi’s presentation are how do we, as leaders, incorporate power studies and research into the workplace and how do we use them to practice effective leadership?

Three things you can do to get started:

  • Use motivational outlook conversations in goal-setting strategies.
  • Examine procedural justice within organizations.
  • Provide autonomy support principles to managers.
Based on research conducted by Dr. Drea Zigarmi and Dr. Peyton Roberts, #5ShadesofPower explains how power affects leadership development in an organization.Tweet This!

Taking a deeper look into how these three methods impact your organization, you can create a foundation for how power is used throughout your organization. Understanding how the shades of power affect these subjects with regards to feelings, motivation and basic psychological needs helps businesses prevent the misuse of power within their organization. Ultimately, it improves our understanding of workplace intentions like intent to use discretionary effort, intent to stay, intent to perform, intent to endorse, and intent to use organizational citizenship behavior.

In addition to being a highly respected and experienced management consultant, best-selling author, powerful trainer, and motivational speaker, Dr. Zigarmi is also a key strategic advisor to Inspire Software. To witness Dr. Zigarmi’s full presentation, join us at ATD’s 2018 International Conference and Exposition May 6-9 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. We’ll see you at booth 810!