Using And Developing Expert Power

Leaders draw upon many different sources of power to assist them in carrying out their duties and tasks. Position and the ability to control and give out tasks, rewards, punish and gate-keep information are all standard items on the management menu and have the considerable disadvantage of making you look, well, dated and even autocratic!


It is far better to use the power that comes directly from your ability and knowledge and which highlights directly your skills and competencies. Your EXPERT power can be drawn from three distinct sources.

Expert power is essential because as a leader, your team looks to you for direction and guidance. Team members need to believe in your ability to set a worthwhile direction, give sound guidance and co-ordinate a good result.

If your team perceives you as a true expert, they will listen to you when you try to persuade them or inspire them. And if your team sees you as an expert you will be able to get excellent results from their efforts. This will allow you to shape their effort to meet the goals that have been set and, critically, they will be relaxed and motivated about the direction that you are taking them.

To develop your own expert powerbase consider the following pointers and apply them to your current working situation.

Promote an image of expertise: Since perceived expertise in many occupations is associated with a person’s education and experience, make sure that relevant staff are aware of your experience and knowledge, qualifications and competence. This needs to be done in a careful and measured way so as not to alienate those around you but it is a primary source of expert power base development. Do not over egg the cake!

Maintain credibility: Once established, make sure you invest time and effort in maintaining this image. Keep up your guard and be very careful how and what you communicate – once lost credibility is seldom ever regained. As an aside make sure that you choose carefully which projects or pieces of work you align yourself with and avoid anything (if possible) that has the air of an impending disaster. Calamity always takes victims with it – avoid this like the plague.

Act confidently and decisively in a crisis: In a crisis or emergency, Staff always prefer a “take charge” leader who appears to know how to direct the group in coping with the problem. Be visible and make sure that your Credibility Stock rises as the crisis plays out. Where possible, never express doubts in the chosen path out of the problem or looks confused or lost.

Keep informed: Experts have their finger on the pulse, are well-versed in all things current and have gems of knowledge tucked away to bring out at a moment’s notice to wow the staff. Polish, refine and polish again your skills of smooth and calm persuasion and, where needed, practical examples of the implementation of key knowledge. You MUST keep well-informed on trends and issues through personal research around the team, the organisation and the wider strategic environment.

Take time to know and understand the concerns of your staff; Good leaders listen carefully to the concerns and uncertainties of their team members, and make sure that they address these. Never allow yourself to be phased by the sudden and volatile changes in team dynamics and pressures.

Go out of your way to be aware of and harness the team’s self-esteem:  You may have the title and the big desk but you need to be very careful about how you use your expert power as the bigger the gap between you and your staff the bigger the threat to your position. Arrogance and poor attitude looks so untidy and unprofessional and ignoring the input of staff is as absolute No No!

For more details of our services please contact