- Coercive power: this type of power comes from a person who gives punishments, and can withhold rewards or other desirable things (think military boot camp). Although effective, this is more of a negative form of power as people who experience it become resentful of it over time. In the arts, this one is best avoided except in extreme case such as scaring an actor to fire him if he's still on book at dress rehearsal.
- Expert power: related to someone's highly precised skills, this power applies only in that person's skills area, in an environment where people need those skills. Solo instrumentalists hold this one in the public's eye, and often times as well to an orchestra. Soloists have to be careful not to expect to have more leverage from this power with conductors, because they are more on an even-playing field with them.
- Referent power: this is the most "personal" kind of power because it is directly linked to how people respond to that particular person. Movie stars and athletes have referent power, which is why advertisers use them to promote their products. Anyone on the stage gets that one from the audience, but it's better to underestimate that one than to assume it, except at your own risk of looking like you have a "big head." Oh, and teenage boys who play the guitar have this one too!
- Legitimate power: legitimate power comes from the position someone holds: the big boss of a company, anyone in a uniform. Conductors, teachers, directors, casting agent, theatre owner, etc.
- Reward power: this power is held by people who can afford to give rewards, whether financial, extra vacations, more responsibilities, etc. Producers sometimes use that one, theatre camps that give out bonuses, and whomever is in a position to give something away and makes it known.
It is helpful for actors to be aware of the different kinds to choose the appropriate one for different characters.
And it is also very important to know when it is appropriate to use our power (position of leadership), and when it is NOT (when we're not in charge).
What kind of power do YOU use? Which power do you respond to best?