Prime the pump
November 2, 2021
Power in the workplace Part:2

apparent? Everything takes longer to get done because everyone relies on him to wave his magic wand to generate certain reports, to troubleshoot certain problems and to answer certain queries. This colleague is not a positional leader but remains relevant by controlling how he uses certain information.

His source of power is informational. “Information Power is the most transitory type of power. Once you give your information away, you give your power away. It’s different from other forms of power because it’s grounded in what you know about the content of a specific situation. Other forms of power are independent of the content.”

Last week we began looking at French and Raven’s five forms of power in the workplace. We touched on the three positional sources of power – Coercive Power, Reward Power and Legitimate Power. Six years after the psychologists’ initial findings, they added the Informational Power source under Personal Power Sources. Today we focus on Personal Power Sources.

To get informational power working for you, you must be the conduit of valuable information and must be able to replenish your information. To build your information power base you should use your information liberally; use it to make informed decisions, use it to build trust and use it discretionally if it is sensitive.

Some years ago, I had a boss who frequently said, “I don’t have to know everything, I just have to be surrounded by people who are knowledgeable in their area of expertise.” Expert Power Source is based on the idea that the leader has authoritative knowledge in a certain field or specialty that allows him to understand situations, suggest workable solutions and make sound judgements and exceed others’ performance.

However, with Expert Power source – the authority of expertise does not transfer from one area to another. For example, whilst you may find a lawyer’s legal counsel plausible, you will not consult him for medical advice. Also, Expert Power will decline if not maintained and while a person with expert power can be tremendously effective, having expert knowledge without the necessary leadership skills does not make him an effective leader.

Finally, there is Referent Power: this power source is based on the idea that power is given to the leader because he is wellliked, charismatic and appears to be honest and trustworthy. He is seen as a “frame of reference”, someone that people want to be like. However, this type of power can be abused easily as power could be given to someone who is likeable but who lacks integrity and uses the power for selfish gains.

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