As company leadership focuses more on teamwork and influence and less on rank and control, referent power is gaining importance, and more managers are attempting to acquire this skill.
However, what exactly is referent power, and what are its benefits? And, most crucially, how should managers conduct themselves to gain referent authority over their team?
Definition, Explanation, And Examples of Referent Power
Referent power is one of the five categories described by French and Raven in 1959; the other four are Coercive, Reward, Legitimate, and Expert. The five sorts of power are separated into formal and personal categories, with referent and expert powers representing personal power.
In contrast to organizational position or the ability to issue incentives or punishments, a leader’s referent authority derives from their traits. It is a form of soft power based on trust and democracy; the manager exerts influence over their people through respect and adoration. Unlike other forms of power, referent authority is earned and not imposed. Due to this, acquiring referent power is not a quick and easy process, but it is worthwhile.
The presence of a referent leader lessens employee fear, improves workers’ productivity, and promotes open communication within the team. Furthermore, according to research, referent power is directly related to improved staff retention, as up to 70% of employee turnover is attributable to unpopular supervisors.
A manager exemplifies referent power in the workplace admired and respected by his employees and is seen as a role model. In challenging circumstances, employees contemplate what their manager would do and attempt to follow their lead.
Now, let’s examine eight methods for enhancing your intrinsic referent strength.
1. Listen Significantly More Than You Speak
This recommendation may appear counterintuitive because a compelling manager must instruct and guide their team by telling them what to do. Right?
Referent leadership requires taking advantage of every opportunity to hear what staff have to say. This applies to work-related difficulties and concerns about employee well-being, working conditions, and advancement.
When you speak with your team, especially when they share a concern, demonstrate respect for their perspective by actively listening.
- Maintain eye contact,
- Nod or otherwise demonstrate that you are paying attention,
- Pose further questions,
- Refrain from displaying judgment, even if you don’t fully agree with the employee;
- When they have finished speaking, offer your thoughts immediately or vow to consider ways to settle the issue.
2. Trust Your Staff and Avoid Micromanagement.
Employees may only accept responsibility for their work if they can perform their best without micromanagement. If you lack confidence in your colleagues’ ability to provide the desired results, one of the following is true:
• You have not employed the correct individuals.
• You are denying them the opportunity to strive for excellence (even if it means failing and learning from their mistakes).
Referent power in leadership is empowering your team, assisting and mentoring them as necessary, but not watching their every action at work. Focusing on the outcomes of a project rather than its minute details decreases stress within the team, develops accountability, and inspires individuals to perform better.
3. Set The Example
Referent power in leadership is the capacity to build followers’ respect and adoration in a manner that compels them to emulate you. In other words, referent power is demonstrated leadership.
If you want your team to adopt specific behaviours or routines, you must first adopt them yourself. Your subordinates will earn respect when they perceive that you are not “all talk” In addition, employees will imitate your behaviour at work and behave as they assume you would in similar situations.
In many instances, employees may not even know they are modelling the leader’s behaviour. What important is that their standards for correctness, timeliness, and thoroughness remain high, thanks to their supervisor’s similarly strong work ethic.
4. Collaborate as Opposed to Issuing Orders
It isn’t easy to conceive of referent strength in management without solid collaborative ties with your team. In a collaborative environment, every employee can express their thoughts and ideas. Collaboration and employee engagement go hand in hand, boosting motivation and a sense of ownership over their work.
Additionally, successful collaboration eliminates the need for bureaucratic procedures and accelerates workflow across teams and departments. Employees are aware that the success of their work is more important than formal procedures and approval from authorities.
5. Be Receptive to New Ideas and Comments
Similar to developing a collaborative workplace, embracing your team’s ideas is a win-win strategy. In reality, one of the benefits of referent power is an open work climate that encourages creativity. Engaging your team’s input will motivate them to perform their duties rather than viewing it as a responsibility.
Even the most innovative leader will eventually run out of fresh and effective ideas. Inviting your team to generate and present ideas is a significantly more efficient technique. In turn, employees will feel that their opinions and proposals matter and can make a difference.
6. Motivate and Commend Your Team
Some managers take their team’s good work for granted, or even worse, they fail to acknowledge or appreciate their workers for their good work.
Recognizing the effort of your staff is a vital component of referent power in management. Here are numerous fair and considerate methods to reward your team:
- Ensure that outstanding work is frequently acknowledged,
- Ensure that you don’t overlook some employees while applauding just others (don’t forget the unsung heroes who provide the firm’s solid basis)
- Applaud professional accomplishments, not personality attributes
- Emphasize both individual and collective accomplishments
- Consider creating a Slack channel for team members to express gratitude and share accolades.
7. Genuinely Care About Your Employees
Behind every character is a genuine person with real-life difficulties and happiness. By demonstrating a respectable level of interest in their personal lives, you will demonstrate to your team that you care about them and their challenges outside the workplace.
For instance, ask your staff about their weekends during Monday meetings and demonstrate a genuine interest in their responses. Ask follow-up questions and assist if an employee is experiencing difficulties. If you cannot change the situation, demonstrate sympathy and understanding.
Regular team-building activities can help you get to know your team and strengthen employee bonds. Informal settings permit a more natural exchange of work-unrelated small conversations and a deeper acquaintance.
8. Support Your Team’s Cause
In certain circumstances, you may find yourself in a dispute or even a conflict with a client. These situations are never simple but do your best to demonstrate that you have your employees’ backs. Even if it involves accepting responsibility for your team’s errors in front of your clients, it is preferable to do so. Later, examine the event critically and determine how to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Situations in which top management is dissatisfied with an employee can be much more difficult. Even so, endeavour to encourage your subordinates without appearing disloyal to the organization. Fight as hard as you can for your team, and the gratitude and devotion of your team will be your reward.
Being A Good Boss Is Profitable
Referent power largely depends on pleasant characteristics, empathy, and excellent interpersonal interactions with your team. If you are a referent leader, you are also courteous, dependable, and fair. You are responsible for your staff while also having faith in them and refraining from meddling with their job when unnecessary. You do not abuse your referent power, which entails treating all employees equally and facilitating compromise when necessary.
Being a fair manager pays dividends with improved business performance, a more pleasant workplace, and greater staff retention. Best wishes for getting there!