In the last topic we discussed leadership in ruralcommunities. This topic is a continuation of leadership in rural communities.The objectives below specify what you are expected to have learnt afterstudying this post.

After studying this topic, you should be able to:

  • recognise leader’s bases of power
  • outline leader’s bases of influence
  • explain the functions of leaders.

Leaders Bases of Power and Influence

That leadership involves the ability to influence,direct or control others, means that leadership involves the use of power. Theleader must have a recognized power, the source of which may be within oroutside the group led. When his power is from the group, this is spontaneously accordedhim by his followers, whereas where the source of power is located externallythere may be some elements of coercion. Power is the ability to exactcompliance or the ability to execute one’s will irrespective of opposition.Cartwright and Zander (1960) have identified five bases of power of a groupleader. These include:

  1. Reward power which derives from the belief onthe part of the followers that they will be rewarded in some way for complying;
  2. Coercive power which arises from the belief thatnon-compliance will result in punishment;
  3. Expert power. In this case when a person isevaluated to have needed knowledge, information or skills which cannot be obtainedreadily elsewhere, that person holds power over the group;
  4. Referent power. This is the power the leader hasas a result of his having qualities which the groups members like, admire andwant to identify with, they submit to him because they identify with him; and
  5. Legimate power. This derives from the office orofficial position which the individual occupies and which gives him the rightto control others and equally compels others to comply. The tax collector andthe police all have legimate powers to do their work.

Power is usually conceived in termsof authority and of influence.

Authority and influence are not synonymous as anindividual who has influence may not have any authority. Authority derives fromofficial position and is the power attached to that office whereas influenceresides within the individual on the basis of his possession of certaincharacteristics or qualities which make other people want to submit to him.

Moss (1970) in a study of communityleaders, has identified six bases of influence. These include the following:

  1. Official Position: This may be elected, appointed or earned office within the politicalstructure. The village headship is an official position for instance. Itusually grants the incumbent a certain minimum of functions andresponsibilities which enable him to become involved in and affect the outcomesof community issues more readily than other actors in the community’s politicalstructure. It provides access to knowledge and information, popularity,friendship, development of skills, the expectation of activity and thelegitimation of attempts to exercise influence by others.
  2. Financial Control: economic base such as control over money, credit, jobs and otherresources or essential services is a recognized strong basis of influence.People who are rich may also enhance their influence within the community bydonating generously to community programmes. In most parts of Nigeria today,they may even purchase traditional titles thereby warming themselves up intothe power structure of the community. When these types of people have featuredrepeatedly in community issues, they may later be regarded as being indispensable.
  3. Organizational Influence: this derives from one’s ability or potential abilityto mobilize and organize others into active groups. It also derives fromparticipation in organizations and perhaps holding position within suchorganizations. Most community issues are crystallized in voluntary formal and informalorganizations hence people who are active in such organizations are bound towield considerable influence within the community.
  4. Knowledge or Expertness: This may be related to official position but itinvolves the possession of particular knowledge or skills above others in thegroup.
  5. Interpersonal Contacts: This includes access to and interaction with otherpersons both inside and outside the community. The individual who has manyfriends and contacts within the community is likely to be more informed,knowledgeable and influential than others. Community members may look up to himto link them up with these external agencies and personalities from whom theycan obtain the needed resources with which to attain their objectives.
  6. Personal Characteristics: This includes attributes like appealing personality,popularity, esteem, charisma, ability to persuade others, eloquence, honesty, congeniality,etc. These attributes by themselves may not form a solid base for influencingothers. To be effective, they must go hand in hand with the possession of a combinationof the other bases of influence earlier on mentioned.


  1. Enumerate thebases of power of a group leader.
  2. List the basesof influence in a rural community.

Functions of Leaders

To advance the course of powers of a group, leadershave to perform some functions. In any social situation, there are fourfundamental leadership functions, these are, goal-setting, goal-achievement,group maintenance, and group evaluation and feedback. Acts of leadership shouldresult in satisfactory performance of these functions if the need for existenceof any group is to be justified.

The functions of leadership are manyand inter-related, Rose and Hendry (1957) identified nine leadership functionsafter a thorough examination of previous writings on leadership. These areensuring:

  1. Viscidity
  2. Hedonic tone
  3. Syntality
  4. Goal-achievement
  5. Initiative
  6. Group and goalanalysis
  7. Communication
  8. Establishingstructure, and
  9. Implementingphilosophy
  10. Viscidity is the tendency of the group topull together. It is the degree to which members can work as a unit in thecommon interest. The group leader could facilitate viscidity by minimizingdissertions, personal conflict among members so that they can work together asa body.
  11. Hedonic tone is the degree of agreeablenessamong group members, it relates to pleasantness in the group atmosphere,generality of relations among members and satisfying experience in the group.To facilitate hedonic tone, the leader should enhance members’ likeness for thegroup and willingness to look forward to its meeting.
  12. Syntality is the prediction of whatperformance of the total group will be in a given stimulus situation. Itincludes such dimensions as group integration, cohesiveness, morale,sociability and permeability.
  13. Goal achievement is the extent to which the group is able to attainalms. The leader in any situation must be able to help the group define, mobilizeresources and attain its goal.
  14. The leader musttake the initiative in most aspects of group life. He must start new ideas,projects, contributions, discussions, and take the lead in carrying out grouptasks.
  15. Group and goal analysis as a leadership function requires that the leader mustpossess the ability to see the subparts of problems and projects and the groupprocess. He must utilize such analysis for efficient group productivity.
  16. The leader mustfacilitate effective communicationamong group members. The moment individuals are not informed about what isgoing on in their group, they tend to limit their interest in the activities ofsuch group.
  17. The leadershould devote time to establishingstructure in a group. After goal-setting, the leader should make internalarrangements for ensuring congenial member interactions, group activities andextra-group relations. “Who is to do what”, should be clearly stated to clarifyresponsibilities and prevent role misconception.
  18. The leader mustimplement the philosophy of the group he represents. Sometimes a leader hassome personal goals apart from the group goals which he wants to achieve. Thereshould be no conflict between the goals of the leader and the group goals ifthe atmosphere is to be maintained in which both can be achieved. That is tosay, for any leader to succeed, his personal goals must be secondary to andcompatible with the group goals.


  1. Listthe four fundamental leadership functions
  2. What is hedonic tone?


In this topic we discussed functions of leaders andtheir bases of power and influence. From all these you would have learnt thatwe tried to analyze “leadership” by breaking it down into severaltypes according to basic function or process, in order to give a bit clearerdescription of all the leadership that comes to play in a community.


The main points in this unit are as follows:

  1. The five basesof power of a group leader include:
    1. Reward power
    1. Coercive power
    1. Expert power
    1. Referent power
    1. Legitimatepower
  2. Power isusually conceived in terms of authority and influence
  3. The bases ofinfluence include:
    1. Officialposition
    1. Financialcontrol
    1. Organizationalinfluence
    1. Knowledge orexpertness
    1. Interpersonalcontacts
    1. Personalcharacteristics
  4. The fourfundamental leadership functions are goal-setting, goal achievement, groupmaintenance and group evaluation and feedback


  1. Identifyand discuss the bases of power of a group leader.
  2. Discussthe bases of influence of community leaders.
  3. Explain the functionsof leaders.


Cartwright, D.and Zander, A. (1980). Group Dynamics: Research and

Theory. Harer and Row publishers, New York.

Jibowo, G., (1992). Leadership in Rural Communities: Essentials of

Rural Sociology. Gbemi Sodipo Press Ltd, Abeokuta,pp 180-201.

Moss, G..M. (1970). An analysis of community leader orientations towards    adult education. Unpublished Ph.D Thesis,University of

Wisconsin, Madison, pp 89-93.

Ross, M. C. and Hendry, C. E. (1957). New Understanding of

LeadershipAssociation. AssociationPress, New York. White, R. and Lippitt, R. “Leader behaviour and matterreactions in three social climates”. In Cartwright, D.and Zander, A. op.cit. pp 318 – 335.

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