Power takes so many forms and I've covered some. Now let's look at a give-and-take. Rewards!
One example of reward power in the workplace is relatively simple; commission.
Doesn't that sound marvelous!? Your salary is limitless! You work, you earn, that simple. Our really driven earners bring home 6 digits consistently.
It makes sense. For those who work hard, they will be rewarded.
For some people, this may be absolutely wonderful. Their motivation IS the sale, the commission, the experience. And for people who think they can do any job to make the the money they want, there is a shelf-life for the durability of the power of the reward.
When the activity itself becomes less and less palatable, the same reward will not be enough motivation to continue the activity. Do we ramp up the reward? Maybe. And it will last for a while. Then the reality of the activity sets back in as not preferred and the power of the reward is again diminished.
When leveraging other rewards, this can be referred to as "the carrot method" in the carrot-or-the-stick analogy. Moving toward a goal is good, but moving toward an ever moving goal can be exhausting. Imagine the carrot tied to a string tied to a stick tied to a donkey. The carrot is hanging in front of the donkey's face and when the donkey walks, the carrot stays out of range. No matter how far the donkey walks, it can never reach the carrot.
As a human, we will walk after the carrot for a while, but once it becomes clear we won't get it, or the potential reward of getting it is not worth the effort of trying without a specific outcome, we will give up. Often times rightly so.
In the work world, sometimes the allure of the reward fades out. Other times, a reward cannot even be offered. A person in an authoritative role who can only pull the reward lever is limited to what they have to offer. If they don't have permission to offer rewards, the influence they have with their people diminishes greatly.
Rewards can be good and meaningful in the short term. For leaders who exercise this type of power, they're going to find out that over time, the power for most people will dwindle. If the reward is the only option for influence, it's time for the leader to engage in different methods of learning and practice to serve their teams more meaningfully.