Office Politics 101: Building Influence
How to Use Your Knowledge to Build Authority
Knowledge is deemed to be the most important of the personal power sources. Referring to what you know and also what you can do. Knowledge is an extraordinary source of power that transcends race and class and, anyone with the desire to attain it can. We gravitate towards knowledgeable people and find them inspiring and often want to learn from them. They are our mentors, coaches and, leaders.
Research shows that people with high knowledge power are very logical and rational in their approach to leadership. They tend to be analytical and find creative alternatives, displaying data visually and asking insightful questions. With these strong traits they excel in engaging others, making it easy to form alliances and build a consensus. Skilled at bringing disjointed points together and by that gaining agreement among people who may initially disagree.
However, knowledge is only power if the knowledge is relevant. For example, I was talking to an industrial air conditioning sales person who was very knowledgeable in her field. She is an expert in not only her product line but her competitors and, garnered much respect and influence in her industry. However, I may admire her knowledge in air conditioning, I don’t care about her products. Her knowledge power has little influence over me.
How to Build Your Knowledge Power
- Avoid faking it, not being able to prove it, diminishes your credibility and respect. It’s like lying on your resume and being submitted to a skills test. It will make you look like an idiot. Apply your knowledge in ways that demonstrates results. For example, join task forces, communicate your knowledge in ways that enable others to recognize what you know.
- Sharing your knowledge is not only helpful to your organization; you will be building your professional brand. Before you know it, you are the go-to person for that expertise within your organization
- Be aware of the tasks your group performs. Especially, when you manage a team. You don’t have to be an expert in each task but, know enough that you will be able to ask intelligent questions. The iconic phrase, “no questions are stupid” is a lie. Managers have asked unintelligent questions that demonstrated they really had no clue what was going on or why.
- We all make mistakes. Admit to it and learn from it. What is even more damaging is being arrogant and accusing others around you for your failure.
- Continue learning, markets and technologies continually change. Your knowledge may no longer be relevant in a few months. “Innovate or die” is a phrase that’s been regularly tossed around in the HR industry, now live it.
To help you get started here is a few questions to build your knowledge power foundation:
- How much knowledge power do you possess and in what fields? Remember, knowledge can refer to skill, talents, abilities, learning, wisdom and accomplishments.
- How do you currently use knowledge to lead or influence?
- Do others seek you out to find the latest news
- Who in your organization has a great amount of knowledge power? Why do they have it and how do they use it? Tip: Look for the go to person in your workplace.
- Do you have access to valuable information and a network of people who continually keep you informed
– “The Elements of Power”, Terry R. Bacon