What is Expert Power?
Expert power is based on a person’s knowledge, or the knowledge they are perceived to possess. This power is generally bestowed upon a person based on their years of experience within an industry, their education, or honor’s they may have received for a particular topic. I use the term bestowed because expert power normally doesn’t occur as a result of the individual enforcing it, as it is normally given to the individual based on how the individual is perceived by subordinates; upper management can also confer expert power to an individual.
A positive attribute related to expert power is anyone within an organization, at any level, can possess expert power. High level managers may refer to a secretary for their thorough knowledge of maintaining critical documents within the organization. Just about everyone likes to feel empowered and expert power can motivate employees and give them a sense of stability within the organization. However, it can be abused and individuals that are aware of their position of power can use it to manipulate others by exploiting their lack of knowledge in a particular area.
Other Types of Power
Reward PowerAn approach where an individual in a leadership position attempts to influence the behavior of others by offering something they may desire. For example, money or promotion.
Coercive PowerIn contrast to reward power, coercive power attempts to influence behavior by implementing punishment for a particular behavior. This type of power places an emphasis on instilling fear to change behavior.
Legitimate PowerLegitimate power is a belief that the title of a position, and the individual that holds it, is entitled to exert influence on subordinates solely based on the status of their position within the organization and that subordinates have an obligation to accept it.
Referent PowerReferent power occurs when an individual views their goals or objectives as similar to that of another individual.