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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02620

Examining the Relationship between Leaders’ Power Use, Followers’ Motivational Outlooks, and Followers’ Work Intentions

  • 1School of Hospitality Administration, Boston University, United States
  • 2Research, Valencore Consulting, United States
  • 3The Ken Blanchard Companies, United States
  • 4University of San Diego, United States

From the foundation of self-determination theory and existing literature on forms of power, we empirically explored relationships between followers’ perceptions of their leader’s use of various forms of power, followers’ self-reported motivational outlooks, and followers’ favorable work intentions. Using survey data collected from two studies of working professionals, we apply path analysis and hierarchical multiple regression to analyze variance among constructs of interest. We found that followers’ perceptions of hard power use by their leaders (i.e., reward, coercive, and legitimate power) was often related to higher levels of sub-optimal motivation in followers (i.e., amotivation, external regulation, and introjected regulation). However, followers who perceived their leaders used soft power (i.e., expert, referent, and informational power) often experienced higher levels of optimal motivation (i.e., identified regulation and intrinsic motivation), but further investigation of soft power use is warranted. The quality of followers’ motivational outlooks was also related to intentions to perform favorably for their organizations.

Keywords: power, Motivation, self-determination theory, Work intentions, soft power, hard power, motivational outlooks, leader, Follower

Received: 02 Apr 2018; Accepted: 05 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Renato Pisanti, University Niccolò Cusano, Italy

Reviewed by:

Hongguo Wei, University of Central Oklahoma, United States
Sangok Yoo, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Roberts, Zigarmi and Fowler. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Taylor P. Roberts, Boston University, School of Hospitality Administration, Boston, 02215, MA, United States,