French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1

French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1

According to Northouse (2016), the five French and Raven bases of social power through which a leader can exert influence (namely, legitimate, reward, coercive, referent and expert) can be broadly categorized into “position power and personal power” (pp. 11 French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1). In the given case study, “His team gets the best assignments”, there are two power bases evident attributed to Carly’s leadership and shared associations with the heads of the four teams; one is referent power and the other is the power to issue rewards. Before elaborating on how these two power bases can be related to Carly’s approach, it is important to define these two power bases.

French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1


According to French Jr and Raven (1962), referent power comes from the perspective of the follower and his/her association with the leader. It refers to the follower’s tendency to identify with and like the leader. Using this power to be liked, the leader influences the other members within a group or an organization. For instance, celebrity exudes referent power whereby the fans provide the base for it using which the celebrity creates considerable influence. In an organizational setting, a manager or someone holding a leadership position can be viewed as exerting the referent variety if he/she acts in such a way as to make every member feel good. French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1


Reward implies that the leader is in a position to issue rewards to the followers in order to recognize their hard work and performance (French Jr & Raven, 1962). Using this power base, the leader has the opportunity and authority to decide who performs better than others and thereby exercise influence through such capacity. A supervisor at workplace is one such example. In this regard, Ryan and Deci (2000) observe that leaders in positions of power in corporate settings, grant promotions to employees, appraise their performances, provide training, opportunities for growth, desirable assignments as well as things as simple as verbal or written compliments.

Case 8.1 Summary

Carly Peters is the director of creative department of Mills, Smith, & Peters (Northouse, 2016). Under her supervision and power, four account teams operate led by associate directors Jack, Terri, Julie and Sarah. The status quo of each team with respect to Carly’s leadership is as follow:

  • Jack
  • Considered by Carly as the best of all the teams and is most creative
  • Has highest appreciation from Carly and the team shares great association with her
  • Willing to go give best and go the extra-mile if the situation demands
  • Allocated abundant and extra resources in certain situations
  • Given more autonomy and independence than the other teams
  • Received accolades for a particular provocative advertisement campaign
  • Terri
  • Also performs well for the organization
  • Was persuaded to opt out of an ad campaign attributed to its provocativeness
  • Unhappy with Carly’s leadership and expresses animosity
  • Feels that Carly shows favoritism towards Jack’s team in particular
  • Julie
  • Feels that her team is out of Carly’s inner circle
  • Feels that other teams are favored and given more resources and opportunities
  • Unsatisfied with Carly’s non-recognition of her team’s performance
  • Sarah
  • Worked under Carly for about 10 years
  • Agrees with Julie and Terri as regards Carly’ partiality
  • Does not have any antagonism towards Carly
  • Conforms with Carly’s treatment of her team
  • Her team’s performance is satisfactory, neither problematic nor excellent
  • Feels that being in Carly’s inner circle of influence implies investing extra time and efforts

Referent and Reward within Case 8.1

Clearly, Carly’s association with Jack’s team is through Carly’s use of referent as power base. Here, it is a dyadic association between the two; in response to Carly’s rewards and appreciations, Jack’s team put forth their best efforts and was always willing to put in extra time and efforts if the situation demands. In addition, Jack’s team was receiving better resources and Carly has also given better autonomy, independence as well as choice.

For instance, Carly chose to let Jack’s team go ahead with an ad project perceived as provocative. It is also evident from the above discussion that Carly had exploited her position of power to reward to exercise influence through her leadership. From Terri’s perspective as also substantiated by the other two associate directors (Julie and Sarah), Carly has used her power to give better resources to Jack’s team, better assignments and rewards although in terms of performance, they are equally capable. In addition, Carly gave nod to a provocative ad campaign by Jack’s team whereas she has counseled Julie out of a similar instance. French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1

Recommendations for the Posed Problem

Ngirande and Timothy (2014 French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1) recommended that, in organizational settings where there are diverse human resources, leaders should adopt an approach characterized by quality information exchanges with all employees equally and should strive to build balanced dyads with all the employees. Only then, success of organizational goals in the long run is possible.

In case 8.1, it is clear that Carly is adopting a bad working and partial working relationship with her employees except Jack’s team; the majority opinion of the three teams out of four endorses this observation. Therefore, Carly should augment her approach by increased communication with all her employees. She should speak with all of them and listen to their ideas, approaches and concerns equally.

There should be equal distribution of resources both human and otherwise to all the four teams and Carly should objectively evaluate their individual performances. If the situation does not improve, and if a democratic ideology is shared with the topmost leadership of the organization, one or more of the associate directors should step forward and report with facts, the unfair treatment issued to their teams; this can also be done anonymously if feasible.

In order achieve positive team dynamics, Carly should realize that she needs to alter her approach to ensure that each team and its associate director feels they are part of the group and share collective ideals and goals. By building positive relationships, Carly would have choice where there is more than one reliable team to go with in case of emergency and challenging situations. In addition, there needs to be a proper appraisal system of rewards for performance and competitive spirit amongst the teams.

References for French and Raven Approach to solving Case 8.1

French Jr, J. R., & Raven, B. (1962). The bases of social power. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Ngirande, H., & Timothy, H. T. (2014). The relationship between leader emotional intelligence and employee job satisfaction. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 5(9), 69-74.  doi:10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n6p35

Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020