Thursday, January 28, 2016

How to Earn and Practice “Expert Power”

The expert power has the foundation of in-depth knowledge, profound insight, and abstract wisdom, to connect the minds and win the hearts.

We step into the knowledge economy in which digital provides the new way to learn, the new possibility to explore unknowns, and the new perspectives to lead and work. Today’s digital workforce is hyper-connected and sophisticated with digital fluency. So are today’s business leaders or managers really “powerful” enough to lead them effectively? Power has many different formats; some visible, some invisible; some are earned, some are given; some are delightful, some are intimidating. There are two powers (Informational power which is about the value or importance of information and knowledge, and expert power which comes from a person’s expertise), can truly win the minds and gain the respects. But how can you earn and practice these powers, and more importantly, as a leader, how can you help to grow more experts with an open mind and learning attitude in your organization?

Strength and distinction: Knowledge is power, however, the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, and lots of commodity knowledge are just a few clicks away. Thus, digital leaders and professionals need to strengthen their strength and build a unique portfolio of competency and capabilities, and practice expert power based on critical thinking and creative thinking, insight, and wisdom. From the talent perspective, it’s important to encourage authenticity, purpose-driven talent development and management, and discourage negative competition or unprofessionalism. Strength needs to be built via continuous practices, and competencies are interrelated with the traits and expertise. Neither one overshadows the other, they complement each other. And this is where the differentiation and selection algorithm comes in, and talent analytics can play an important role in people management. Knowledge workers, especially high professionals in the digital era should learn and practice their expert power and make influence via persuasion and insight sharing proactively.

Digital footprint: Expert power is neither equal to the title you have or the certificate you hold. Your title can provide you some authority to facilitate, but can't guarantee your leadership effectiveness; your education certificate can imply you have a certain level of learning ability, but can't guarantee you still have updated knowledge, you really know how to think, or you truly have creative skills. Nowadays, to break down stereotypical biases or any types of career ceilings, continuous delivery, and dynamic digital footprint become the very significant part of “who you are,” and digital platforms can condense your strength to amplify your expert influence. Your digital blueprint will reflect your vision, your character or personality, your expertise, and your uniqueness, not as a snapshot, but as a cohesive flow. At the era of social computing, each one of us can become the leader at our own favorite domains: the thought leader, the domain expert, the change agent, the innovator, the talent master, or the culture evangelist, you can grow and flow both horizontally and vertically, you don’t compete for the best of anything, you will just need to discover your true authentication, and you are competing via your knowledge and expertise. Digital is more open, transparent and fluid, you are what you read, and you are what you are pursuing and what you are creating!

Success/Failure Stories: Life's a journey with ups and downs, we all have a set of success and failure stories to be who we are at the moment. And both parts can build your strength and expertise if you can learn from them and share about them. Success is a byproduct of failure and application of wisdom. Success is persistent, punctual efforts with perseverance. Failure is the chance to teach you the depth of life and taste the bitterness which might also help you to get wiser. Success is picking you up when you fall or get a setback and having learned from the fall to continue on the life journey with a positive attitude and wiser mind.

Coach capability: Coaching and mentoring are going to be increasingly important now, and that’s why expert power is perhaps more powerful than other types of powers in the age of digitalization and globalization. Mentoring has always been a very integral part of an organization’s success. In the past, the share and spread of knowledge and skills could survive in isolation. However, in the new age, the faster the dissemination, the better the response. Some of this teaching has to be culturally driven by insightful leaders and not just limited to discretionary skill. The coach/mentor can show the team how to explore their own natural skill sets, talents, and strong sides, take into account their own objectives in line with working needs. Additionally, to show them that there is always a way to earn what they dream of - if they are willing to spend the time and energy in self-development. The titles and qualifications, if well managed, are needed in every society: ensuring respect for the person who has the knowledge and expert power to coach.

Empathetic Communication: Technology makes the world much smaller than ever, we are all net citizen and C (connecting) generation now, the expert power can influence and improve communication quality and effectiveness, because knowledge-insight-wisdom cycle can overcome silo mentality, and gain empathy which  is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings; or the intellectual identification with vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Knowledge and insight help to build the leadership influence power in developing the true understanding based upon trust and cognitive understanding. It’s the leadership capacity to be non-judgmental; the capacity to appreciate and communicate with respect for other people's ways; and the capacity to be flexible with tolerance for ambiguity.

The expert power has the foundation of in-depth knowledge, profound insight, and abstract wisdom, to connect the minds and win the hearts. Knowledge is the ‘power’; wisdom is the exceptionally effective use of power. Knowledge is learned, and expert power is earned to make deep influence via the inner drive and demonstrated wisdom.


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