What comes to mind when you hear that word? Do you envision you standing on the top of a mountain your team around you cheering you on? Or is it a shared comradery of success? While you tell the team member next to you great job. Or do you pay each member twenty dollars for joining you on a Sunday hike?
When you are working with teams of people you are automatically given certain control in the situation. You control their paychecks, raises, how they do their job and how others view them. This is an important role but also one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can change the future of someone for good or bad. You can help them achieve their dreams or you can crush what they have worked their whole life for. This power should be used correctly and carefully.
Each type of power has a different purpose and will affect your team differently. The three types of power according to Stephen Covey (1990) are coercive power, utility power or legitimate power.
Coercive power is controlling and forces people to do things under duress. When you are this type of leader people don’t necessarily respect you or do things to help you out because they want to but because they are afraid of what you hold over their head. This type of leader does not instill trust nor does it build respect among teammates. For your dental business it could jeopardize the relationship with your patients.
Utility power is power that makes promises. It is a guarantee of a paycheck, or some reward. In the dental office, your team may step up with patients to gain a bonus or because in the end they are earning a paycheck. This power is not necessarily bad however, in the end legitimate power is the power you want to move your team forward, because utility power only works if you have something to offer.
Legitimate power is true trust that you have earned. This offers team support for a shared purpose. Individuals in your organization will step up because it is an effort that will best support the goals. It is a shared mission and vision along with a deeply routed trust for you as their leader.