Power is an admirable thing almost to everyone. This is the reason some people feel disrespected if their power is not recognized. There are connotations of power that exist and exemplify themselves in different case scenarios in life. Jake, is a seasoned employee who later leaves his organization and facilitates his nephew’s employment in the same organization in his working years. The nephew is named Terry and shows different forms of power. As such, this essay outlines different forms of power as described by scholars and tries to analyze how the distinct powers showcase themselves in Terry’s and Jake’s case.

Literature Review

To start with, French and Raven have explained five interpersonal basis of power, which are: Legitimate, Reward, Coercive, Expert, and Referent power. Firstly, “Legitimate power is based upon authority recognized in accordance with position in an organizational structure” (Ambur, 2000). Since Jake put his neck on the line and endured a personal risk to get Terry the job, he does have the right to expect obedience from Terry towards the call center. Secondly, “Reward power results from the ability to provide positive reinforcement for desired behavior” (Ambur, 2000). In Terry’s case, Jake rewarded Terry with a job in the company and then a promotion for a supervisor position. This could be seen as reward power, where Jake would try reinforcing and rewarding Terry’s hard work with rewards. Third, “Coercive power reflects the potential to inflict punishment” (Ambur, 2000). In this case, Terry has coercive power over employees in the call center, which is given indirectly to him by Frank. This is through Terry’s handling of the schedules and unfair distribution of work. However, in case of power with Jake and Terry, Jake has the power to punish Terry but there is not a need to do so. Fourth, Expert power which “is a form of referent power resulting from recognized expertise” (Ambur, 2000). In this case, Jake has worked previously in the company and has an expertise in the field thus, he used this power to benefit Terry. Fifth, “Referent power is a function of the respect and esteem accorded to an individual by virtue of personal attributes with which others identify” (Ambur, 2000). After seeing the relationship between Jake and Terry, it is obvious that Terry admires Jake’s effort and respects his style in dealing with him in the past. This is because he helped in transforming him from a rebel kid to a professional employee.

Power in an organization is one’s ability to get others to do what one wants (Royle, M. T., & Hall, A. T., 2012). In addition, individuals in an organization can have different types of power. For example, Terry is currently experiencing expert power in his position at the call center. This is the power to have influence on others based on some unique expertise even when one lacks a high rank. This applies to Terry as he has unmatchable technical skills and he has a lot of respect from his colleague workers. In addition, despite of his lower position than Frank, his supervisor, Terry is always providing help to Frank in so many things including decisions. However, when he accepts the supervisor job the type of power Terry exerts will shift to reward and coercive power. In his new position, Terry will be given the authority to reward others in the organization using recognition, pay raise, or a promotion. Terry’s coercive power is opposite of the reward and it is the ability to punish others for not meeting the expected performance. Terry would be exercising this kind of power by criticizing, lowering a salary, or demoting employees.

The first political tactic Terry could employ in order for him to gain the power he needs while resuming his newly appointed job is a tactic named Impression Management. This tactic refers to how an individual or supervisor in this case, can shape, mold, and alter their favorable self-image and affect others through it. Impression Management is also divided into two sections, the first being self-presentation which involves a high level of energy, appropriate dressing, and employing a positive tone of voice. The second part of this tactic involves what a supervisor can do for others to gain them, such as doing favors for others, showing interest in what they are saying or what they are working on, and most importantly being an active listener, since one of the signs of a good supervisor is being receptive to your subordinates. Another political tactic that Terry can incorporate into his coping method is playing the sponsorship game. This tactic is basically when an individual attaches or associates him or herself with a more important figure in order for other subordinates to perceive them as just important. For an example, Terry can present a united front with his manager so that Terry’s subordinates understand that he is backed by a higher power and that he must be respected. However, in order for this game to work there are rules to it. Firstly, the individual must show that they are loyal to the higher power backing them. Secondly, the individual must not show contradiction by following every order given by the higher power in order for subordinates to do the same when it comes to Terry’s orders. Thirdly, the higher power or position must be given space and be put on a platform when giving orders. Lastly, showing gratitude and thankfulness to display the immense gratitude the individual is feeling towards the sponsor. Terry could employ this tactic also because of the power that will rub off on him through these interactions with the higher power of management, which will later benefit him in leading his subordinates. Terry must make his main focus to reap utilitarian outcomes, since as a manager your job is to try and achieve the satisfaction of people both inside and outside the organization.

Furthermore, McClelland explains the needs of individuals through three different categories as mentioned in the study: “…needs theory contends that individuals are motivated by three basic drivers: achievement, affiliation, and power” (Royle, M. T., & Hall, A. T., 2012). The need of power theory demonstrates any individual’s desire to have power on others through a higher position or control.  He believes that those needs reflect on individual actions and creates motivation. Nonetheless, people for a high need of power may act more destructively and selfishly resulting in reduced performance levels, but the ones who share part of their power would most likely achieve their shared goals. In this case, it seems that Terry is satisfied with his current job as a sales representative because he gained the power in it through experience and recognition of others. Employees now seek his expertise and even his boss does. In addition, Terry has been given the power to make the employees schedule based on his proficiency, which placed more emphasis on his power. Therefore, now that Terry is used to having high power, he is afraid to take the step out of his comfort zone even if it may be better for him in the long-term. On the other hand, Jake’s need of power is limited because he does not have any motive from having power over Terry in the company. Yet, Jake has the power as a former employee in the company to help Jake, and has enough connections to confirm his power. Most importantly, Terry’s decision to move to a different department should be led by his need for achievement and affiliation not the need for power. As the book mentions, “…a worker with a high need to achieve would set challenging goals, work hard to achieve the goals, and use skills and abilities to achieve them” (Gibson, J. L., Donnelly, J. H., Ivancevich, J. M., & Konopaske, R., 2012, p.135). This shows that in order to regain power he has to be motivated by his need to achieve, to gain power in his new position, and again prove himself as the central power in the new department.

Power in an organization is different from its organizational structure. This can be evidenced in Terry’s case where he summons employees and Franks seeks expert opinion from him. Although they are in the same department, Frank possesses a higher rank than Terry as the supervisor. That does not deter Terry from exercising power in the department’s decisions. Terry has to be involved in all the department’s decisions, which is as a result of his accrued experience. This is a reflection of power structure is not always about bureaucracy or hierarchical orientations (Nielsen, 2012). Jake is a seasoned employee in the organization that Terry works. In his working years, Jake introduced Terry as a young man with no education and advised him to save for some college education that would see him advance to much higher ranks. According to Nielsen, sometimes power lies in the middle management people. This is the power that Jake exercised by convincing his employer to employee his nephew Terry. It is hard to get a job when one is uneducated or with less credentials no matter how low, the rank may be. Therefore, it is because of Jake’s credibility and influential power, Terry secured a job. This is the reason Terry says if it were not for his uncle Jake, he would be dead. Nielsen goes on to explain that there are forms of power called power fiefdoms. The power fiefdoms make informal groups in an organization that make things done. This is evident in Terry’s case where he is able to consolidate his department and demand respect from his colleagues. The colleagues respect him because of his expertise and accrued knowledge. The group is a fiefdom, which depends on Terry’s guidance in their performance, as they are also willing to cooperate under him. As such, power is exerted over them as a fiefdom.

 Concurrently, there is also informational power. This is the type of power one possess some information that no one else in the department has and is usually temporary but should be transformed into long term (Giang, 2013). Jake sees informational power in Terry. Jake realizes that Terry needs growth and sees it relevant to move to another higher position in a new organization. The information that Terry possess is a result of experience and the education he has received. With time, he will lack the same informational power and someone will most likely replace him. Jake therefore see the need for Jake to move to the new organization and grab the opportunity for the marketing job.


In conclusion, Terry and Jake excellently use power to their advantage. It is not a bad thing because they have experienced positive development. Jakes influential power helps Terry get a job in the same organization he is working. Terry on the other hand respects his uncle’s power by following his advice and getting a college degree. This sees him rise from mailroom worker to senior customer service specialist. At this position, Terry accumulates experience, which together with his education translates to expert power; he is able to advice on decisions to be taken in his department including his supervisor. Power is therefore not always a subject or proponent of hierarchical orientation; it can be as a result of accrued knowledge and experience.



Ambur, O. (2000, July 15). Reconsidering The Higher Order Legitimacy of French and Raven’s Bases of Social Power. Communication Cache. Retrieved from:

Giang, V. (2013, July 31). The 7 Types of Power that Shape the Workplace. Business Insider. Retrieved from:

Gibson, J. L., Donnelly, J. H., Ivancevich, J. M., & Konopaske, R. (2012). Organizations. New York: McGRAW Hill.

Nielsen, L. (2012, November 3). Power Structure of an Organization. Chron. Retrieved from:

Royle, M. T., & Hall, A. T. (2012). The relationship between McClelland’s Theory of Needs, feeling individually accountable, and informal accountability for others. International Journal of Management and Marketing Research, 5(1), 21-42. Retrieved from




The Scope of Power