Legitimate power is gained through position in the organisation. A P3 manager has legitimate power with respect to the management and development teams in the project, programme or portfolio. With respect to internal resources that may be shared with line managers in a matrix organisation. When necessary, the manager may have to call upon the support of the sponsor to provide a higher level of legitimate power.
Reward power arises from administrative power over rewards. Most P3 managers have limited reward power with regard to internal resources since this is primarily invested in the line managers. However, depending upon the payment methods in a contract, they may have significant reward power over external resources.
Coercive power is concerned with the manager’s ability to punish. This is simply the opposite of reward power and is usually affected by the same factors in the P3 context.
Expert power is attained through a manager’s personal knowledge, skills and abilities. Someone who has a strong reputation for good P3 management will have expert power. There is often much debate about whether project managers need to be knowledgeable and skilled in the primary domain of the project, e.g. does a manager of an IT project need to be an ex programmer or business analyst. Clearly, if someone does not have a technical background in the work of the project they will not attain expert power in that way and must rely on their profile as an expert project manager.
Charisma power is clearly a personal characteristic and very dependent upon the subjective views of the team being led or the stakeholders being influenced. It is certainly the case that in a programme or complex project, the P3 manager is more and more detached from expert power and must use charisma to promote the vision for the work.
Referent power is gained through association. Where a P3 manager draws upon the support of a powerful sponsor, they are using referent power.
Information power is gained by anyone who has information that others need to do their work. This must be used with caution as it implies holding back information to gain power, which is rarely in the interests of effective P3 management.
- Montana, Patrick J, and Charnov, Bruce H, (2008) Management, Barron’s Educational Series, Hauppauge, New York.