Hard versus soft power for leaders

Darryl Bachmeier
Mar 17, 2019

An example of Hard Power is the carrot and stick philosophy also known as Reward and Coercive power. Reward Power is when the leader has power to give or take away rewards. Coercive Power is when the leader has power to punish. I believe that a Theory X leader would be much more likely to use hard power as it is aligned with their belief that people do not like work and need to be motivated. I see this working only followers who respond well to rewards. It can also lead to followers who do not think for themselves and do not develop.

Soft Power on the other hand is the use of persuasion and logical argument to attract followers to your ideas and goals. Types of soft power include legitimate, referent, expert and informational. Legitimate power is given to those leaders based on their position or title CEO or police officer for example. Referent Power is derived by the likeability of a leader. Follower’s lookup to the leader and either unconscious/consciously begin to imitate the leader. Expert Power is from unique and valuable skills and expertise. Informational Power when someone has specific knowledge that is valuable to others. I think this should be separate from expert power.

There seems to be advantages and disadvantages to using only one type of power. Depending on the leaders situation a healthy blend of both types of power may be the best option. The use of each type of power depends on the leader’s ability to influence and the compliance of followers in response to the use of power. There will also be different levels of resistance and commitment from all followers.

2020 © Zenbo Services Ltd. All rights reserved.