I am hoping some of the intelligent posters here can help me understand something regarding the different types of power. The question is this:
If role power is the least powerful form of power (compared to expert/referent/trust etc)in relationships and teams, why do teams with no clear leader struggle compared to teams with a manager or boss in charge?
The genesis of this question comes from a comment Mark made near the end of a recent MT podcast about the effectiveness of different forms of power, and a project I was recently involved in. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but Mark said something to the effect that the least powerful form of power in a relationship or team is role power. That got me thinking about a project I recently finished in my MBA program where a group of six MBAs, including myself, completed a seven-week consulting project for a Fortune 500 company in the Midwest. The project result overall was good, but the process and work leading up to the end were less than smooth. Freeriding occurred, deadlines were missed, team members skipped meetings with no real consequence other than diminished reputations. This was a result partially, I believe, because all six of us students were peers and no one was in charge of the entire group. No one had the role power to step up and say, “Okay, I’ve heard everyone’s opinion. Let’s go in X direction,” or “Joe, I need you to work this weekend to finish the analysis you said you’d have done by Friday.”
Think back to group work in school (or some other group without a clear leader). It seems to me that there is more of a free rider problem than in a workplace group with a boss who can fire someone. If role power is the least powerful form of power in relationships and teams, why is this the case?