When individuals have a high level of knowledge in a particular subject or are exceptionally skilled at a specific task, they are said to wield expert power.
Expert power is invaluable to the success of any organization. Unlike the power bestowed by formal title and designations, expert power is personal and demonstrated in action. Expert power is something any of us can attain if we are willing to put in the time and the effort required.
A person’s expert power defines their standing in hierarchies, regardless of their official level or grade within their organization. An expert power example can be someone in the team who is the only person around to understand a particular language, write code in a particular computer programming language, or has first-hand experience of field or market conditions. Such individuals personify the expert power definition, becoming the go-to people for that specific knowledge or skill. It is a power that comes from others' belief that this individual possesses a level of expertise that is unique and which they do not possess themselves.
Why Is Expert Power Important?
The question of why expert power is important can be answered in several ways.
Expert power can be more conducive to an organization than reward-based or coercive power in leading people effectively. Your team is more inclined to listen to people who have a demonstrated ability to deliver results in a particular sphere of action.
People with expert power define the way others trust them: for direction, for taking crucial calls and for delivering great results. It is also likely for experts’ skills to pass on to the team members they work with. But this is only possible when you continuously develop those skills and knowledge to remain an expert power example.
The contribution of former president APJ Abdul Kalam to the field of science and technology is held up as an example even today. He is a great model of someone with expert power. Fondly referred to as the ‘Missile Man’ for his work with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), technologies he worked on are still being used by these institutions.
Kalam believed, “Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”
Why Is Expert Power Important To An Individual?
Leading more confidently because of your firm grasp of the subject under purview is an expert power definition. Expert power makes your team look up to you and not resist your leadership.
Your ability to stand out in certain areas could lead to advancements in your career. You can use your know-how to build influence outside your company by participating in industry forums and conducting workshops.
Expert power helps get crucial decisions right, even in high-pressure situations.
How To Build Expert Power
Building expertise is no easy task. It is time-consuming, but if you do it right, the pay-off is usually guaranteed. Here are a few ways you can accomplish that.
Make your expertise visible
Expertise is often linked to education and experience. Make your education, work experience, and accomplishments visible to others around you. Create opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge.
Protect your credibility
Take great care to protect your expert power. Avoid careless decisions that may result in loss of credibility, and avoid being reckless about unfamiliar subjects.
Tailor your expert power to real needs
You can quickly lose expert power after the initial excitement if people realize that your expertise is mostly academic, with very little relevance to practical situations and reality. Respect organizational needs and tailor your knowledge to suit the requirements.
Though many have the potential to meet the expert power definition, only a few manage to eventually earn their stripes. It requires a great deal of energy to build and then maintain a high level of expertise. Why is expert power important, you may ask. Because it lasts longer than other forms of power and offers the most durable solutions.
Harappa Education offers an online course called Navigating Workplaces to teach you techniques to cut through office politics and identify your cultural fit in an organization. The course enables you to master the essential skills of influencing others and dealing with conflict.
It includes a section on power structures that can help you understand the types of power people hold. Carving out a niche for yourself by seizing the opportunities that come your way will help you expand your knowledge—capitalize on these opportunities to achieve fulfillment in your professional life.
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