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It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. Aside from the fact that old Abe forgot to mention the other half of the population, he makes a good point.

Power left unchecked and unbalanced can take a leader and an organisation to a dark place.

In a recent Masters lecture on power and influence, I took the students through an old but still hugely relevant model by John French and Bertram Raven. You can read the chapter they wrote in the book ‘Studies in Social Power’ here.

If you want a digest then read on…

What is it?

French & Raven identified five ‘power bases’ at play in an organisation. These are:

  1. Reward power i.e. the ability to reward others’ behaviour.
  2. Coercive power i.e. the ability to punish others’ non-compliance.
  3. Referent power i.e…

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