Referent power

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Referent power is a form of reverence gained by a leader who has strong interpersonal relationship skills. Referent power, as an aspect of personal power, becomes particularly important as organizational leadership becomes 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. They commit to their work because of the leader's likability, and they base their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment on their leader's approval.

Because referent power is defined as 'the ability of a leader to influence a follower due to the follower's admiration, respect, or identification with the leader',[1] it has been suggested that the given name of 'Referent power' was due to a misspelling, with a more appropriate label being 'Reverent power.' This is supported by the following dictionary definitions: Referent: "the thing that a symbol stands for, or refers to",[2] and Reverent: "showing great respect and admiration."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Referent Power in the Workplace". EPM. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  2. ^ "Definition of REFERENT". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  3. ^ "REVERENT | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  1. "Referent Power in the Workplace". EPM. Retrieved 2020-11-08
  2. "Definition of REFERENT". . Retrieved 2020-11-08
  3. "Definition of REVERENT". Retrieved 2020-11-08
  4. French, J., & Raven, B. The bases of social power. Studies in social power (1959).
  5. Taylor, Peplau, & Sears (2006). Social Psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-13-193281-0
  6. 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
  7. French, J., & Raven, B. The bases of social power. Studies in social power (1959). Pgs. 150–167.