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Nationalism, patriotism, celebrities, mass leaders and widely-respected people are examples of referent power in effect.
Definition: Referent power refers to the ability of a leader to influence a follower because of the follower's loyalty, respect, friendship, admiration, affection, or a desire to gain approval.
Referent power is gained by a leader who has strong interpersonal relationship skills.
Referent power, as an aspect of personal power, becomes particularly important as organizational leadership is increasingly about collaboration and influence rather than command and control.
In an organizational setting, referent power is most easily seen in the charismatic leader who excels in making others feel comfortable in his or her presence. Staff typically express their excitement about work in terms of their attraction to their leader's personal characteristics and charisma. The reason they commit to their work is because of the leader's likability and they base their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment on their leader's approval.
- 1French, J., & Raven, B. The bases of social power. Studies in social power (1959).
- Taylor, Peplau, & Sears (2006). Social Psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-13-193281-0
- Joseph C. Thomas. "Leadership Effectiveness of Referent Power as a Distinction of Personal Power". Regent University Center for Leadership Studies, LEAD605 Foundations of Effective Leadership, 18-Feb-2002
4. French, J., & Raven, B. The bases of social power. Studies in social power (1959). Pgs. 150-167.
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