Effective leadership is the result of a number of factors—such
as vision, personality traits, specific behaviors, skills, courage,
and power. Focusing on this last factor, leadership power can be
categorized into five sources:
• Legitimate power: The authority or right to order someone to
do something (followers comply be- cause they have to).
• Reward power: Influence that comes from the ability to hand
out rewards (followers comply to obtain rewards).
• Coercive power: Influence that comes from the ability to hand
out punishments (followers comply to avoid punishments).
• Referent power: Influence that derives from appealing personal
characteristics (followers comply because of admiration or
• Expert power: Influence that stems from knowledge and
expertise (followers comply because they believe the action is
Labor relations constrain some of these sources of power. Labor
law denies managers and union leaders the legitimate power to order
individuals to support or not support a labor union and similarly
bans the use of reward and coercive power to influence support for
a union. Union contracts often specify limitations on management’s
legitimate, reward, and coercive power—discipline and discharge
must be conducted with just cause, and rewards are often
But these are turbulent times for labor relations. The
institutions of labor relations—both labor law and unions—are
widely regarded as weak. As such, in many cases these restrictions
on a manager’s power are more theoretical than real. At the same
time, managers are under great pressure in a hypercompetitive
1. Provide labor relations examples of a manager’s use of these
five types of power that would support good leadership. Provide
labor relations examples in which uses of these five types of power
would undermine good leadership.
2. It is often argued that integrity is a key component of good
leadership and that leaders should adhere to high ethical
3. With weak labor laws and labor unions, is it more or less
important that leaders have high ethical standards?
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