This video examines sources of power and influence in light of a number of recent current events that raise interesting questions about what might be your best approach. Specifically, a look at how coaches rely on power and why they may want to re-consider.

Power refers to the possession of authority and influence over others. Power is a tool that, depending on how it’s used, can lead to either positive or negative outcomes in an organization. In 1959, American sociologists John French and Bertram Raven published an article, “The Bases of Power,” that’s regarded as the basis for classifying power in organizations. They identified five sources of power, namely: coercive, referent, legitimate, expert and reward power.

Legitimate power is also known as positional power. It’s derived from the position a person holds in an organization’s or team’s hierarchy. For positional power to be exercised effectively, the person wielding it must be deemed to have earned it legitimately. An example of legitimate power is that held by a coach or administrator.

Expert power

Knowledge and unique skill is power. Expert power is derived from possessing knowledge or expertise in a particular area. Such people are highly valued by organizations and teams for skills. People who have expert power perform critical tasks and are therefore deemed indispensable. The opinions, ideas and decisions of people with expert power are held in high regard by others and hence greatly influence their actions. Possession of expert power is normally a stepping stone to other sources of power such as legitimate power. For example, a person who holds expert power can be promoted to head coach or athletic director, thereby giving him legitimate power.

Referent power is derived from the interpersonal relationships that a person cultivates with other people in the organization or team. People possess reference power when others respect and like them. Referent power arises from charisma, as the charismatic person influences others via the admiration, respect and trust others have for her. Referent power is also derived from personal connections that a person has with key people in the organization’s hierarchy. It’s the perception of the personal relationships that generates power over others.

Coercive Power

Coercive power is derived from a person’s ability to influence others via threats, punishments or sanctions. Coercive power is a person’s ability to punish, fire or reprimand an athlete, coach, or administrator. Coercive power helps control the behavior of others by ensuring that they adhere to the organization’s or team’s policies and norms.

Reward Power

Reward power arises from the ability of a person to influence the allocation of incentives in an organization or team. These incentives include playing time, preferred roles, scholarships, team awards, etc. Reward power, if used well, greatly motivates. But if it’s applied through favoritism, reward power can greatly demoralize and diminish toutput.