Power is not just about authority or position in the chain of command. High ranking position doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be influential and a lack of a high position doesn’t mean you won’t be. You have six sources of power at work that can help you be successful at influence. In this post I’m discussing your knowledge power.
Knowledge power is one of your internal sources of power. Along with relationship power and personal power, these are your lasting sources of power that stay with you no matter the organization you’re in or the position you hold.
This is good news — you’re the one in control of keeping your knowledge current, then making sure that people know about it. When people are aware of your knowledge as a resource, this ups your influence game.
3 Kinds of Knowledge Power
Your knowledge at work includes your expertise as well as informational and institutional knowledge. You exercise your knowledge power through the acquisition and demonstrated use of expertise, and by gaining and distributing highly regarded informational and institutional knowledge to the right sources.
Expert Knowledge: When it comes to power and influence, your expertise is only as useful as it is current and evident. To preserve your status as a knowledge expert, people have to be made aware of your upgrades in your areas of expertise and how that knowledge could be put to use in the organization both now and in the future. If you can position yourself as a knowledge expert – and possibly the only expert – in a particular area, your knowledge becomes a valuable resource for others. What makes your knowledge base stand out from others in your department and organization, and how does your knowledge bring specific value? Who needs to be aware or more aware of your expert knowledge? Choose at least two people below you, two at your level, and two above you who would benefit from your expertise. In some instances you might use a modified version of the sound-bite strategy to get the word out.
Informational Knowledge: Informational knowledge refers to the latest news about company direction, leadership’s visions and plans, and other specific inside information that many may find useful but often aren’t privy to. If you are such an information source in your organization, you can use this knowledge wisely to become the go-to for reports on the latest happenings. To maintain your status as an information source you must keep up your relationships so that the inside knowledge continues to flow to you, and you must pass the information along wisely, sharing only what’s useful, not what’s private or sensitive.
Institutional Knowledge: Having institutional knowledge means you have a deep understanding of organizational history, best processes and procedures, chains of command and communication routes. (While this type of knowledge is internal despite any changes in your position or in company leadership, it obviously won’t follow you if you leave your organization.) Are the right people aware of your institutional knowledge?
The more knowledge you have and the more connected you are to the people who benefit from that knowledge, the higher your quotient of influence is likely to be, no matter your position in the organization.
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