Have you heard the phrase that it takes 10,000 hours of conscious practice to make you an expert?
That’s roughly 417 days if you practice 24 hours a day. Since this is impossible, with a conscious practice of about 3-4 hours a day it would take about 8-10 years to be considered an expert on something.
However, the perceived expertise is different. We often consider the people in our company to be experts in a certain field, even if they have not been in this field for 10 years.
That’s because they have expert power.
In this post we discuss what expert power is and how you can develop it as a leader.
What is expert power?
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Expert power is when people around you perceive that you have a high level of knowledge, expertise or skills in a particular area because you have demonstrated your skills. Usually this perception leads to more power and influence in your workplace.
Examples of expert power
When you work in a company, those who are at the director level or above often have expert power as they are believed to have advanced to their position based on their extensive knowledge and experience. Often times, those with expert power are in leadership positions, but this does not always have to be the case.
Expert power is situational and anyone can have it in different areas. As a millennial who grew up with technology, I am often perceived as an expert on social media. After talking to myself and talking about my love for reality TV, I usually get expert power in pop culture as well.
On the other hand, if I were to speak to my uncle, who holds a high position in finance, I would have no expert power in this scenario. Expert power can switch the dynamics depending on the topic.
If you have expert power at work, you will stand out from others in your career, rise to management positions and, due to your high qualification level, show confidence in your area of expertise.
Expertise will trust you to make high pressure decisions, and your expertise will make you more confident that you can make those decisions. Now let’s discuss the benefits of expert power.
Advantages of expert power
1. Optimized business decisions.
Expertise enables you to make more informed, optimized decisions for your business. The longer you do something and the more you focus on your education in that area, the better decisions you will make and the more confident you will be in making those decisions.
For example, when I started writing, my process was neither refined nor streamlined. It took me a lot longer to complete writing assignments. Now that I’ve been a writer for over 10 years, I can write much faster and make better decisions while writing. I know when I research what to include and what not to include. This confidence and ability comes over time as I continuously work on my skills with my mentors and managers and receive consistent feedback.
If you have expertise in a certain area, your decisions will be leaner, faster, safer and more efficient.
2. Opportunity for professional advancement.
One of the main benefits of expert power in the workplace is the opportunity to advance your career (hopefully at an accelerated pace). At the beginning of your career, it is good to spend a lot of time learning and developing your specialist knowledge.
Once it is clear that you are focusing on a certain area and developing certain skills, you have perceived expert power and can advance your career. Personally, thanks to my literary skills, I was able to achieve promotions and advance my career.
3. Developed leadership skills.
Not only will you gain confidence and be able to advance your career, but you will also develop your leadership skills which will give your career a huge advantage. While I may not have expert knowledge of something like engineering, I am confident that I can lead a team of authors because I’ve worked in enough teams and have been doing so for a while.
However, it is important to note that just because you are an expert in a particular field doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a good leader. That is why it is important to develop expert power and leadership skills. Let’s dive into how to do this below.
Expert Power in Leadership: How to Develop It
- Intentional Practice.
- Work with mentors and leaders.
- Make your expertise available.
- Never stop being a student in your industry.
- Keep your credibility.
- Work in a fast paced environment.
- Lead with HEART.
- Be solution oriented.
1. Conscious Practice.
Becoming an expert in your field does not mean that you can just show up and gain expertise through osmosis. You need to practice and study consciously. This means that the first step in developing expert power is to practice, practice, practice. Whether it’s tactical skills like construction or conceptual skills like business strategy, you need to immerse yourself in the world. This means you may need to have an entry-level job to gain hands-on experience in your industry.
2. Work with mentors and leaders.
The best way to continue building your expertise is to work with mentors and leaders who you can learn from. Having a mentor means soaking up their knowledge, asking them for tips and advice, discussing what is and isn’t going well in your career, and then just listening. Competence comes from experience and you can benefit from listening to other people’s stories. In addition, you will acquire leadership skills by examining how your mentors lead others.
3. Make your expertise available.
Regardless of your expertise, don’t be afraid to share it. If you work for a company and are a development executive, share your experiences and what you have learned as your team discusses strategy. Don’t be afraid to enter into these conversations. Not only will people begin to realize that you are an expert in a certain field, but you’ll also learn a lot from other people’s feedback.
4. Never stop being a student in your industry.
To be an expert in something, you also have to be a student in that industry. If you stop being a student, your expertise will forfeit. You should read books, stay up to date on news and trends in your field, and volunteer for projects in your workplace so that you can absorb knowledge. This is how you really develop and maintain expert power.
5. Maintain your credibility.
You only have expert power if you are credible in your field. Maintaining your ethics and reliability is extremely important because expert opinion only comes to those you can trust to continuously make strategic business decisions. If your expertise is arbitrary, you will not have perceived power from those around you.
6. Work in a fast-paced environment.
A great way to develop expert skills is to work in a fast-paced environment and learn to make strategic, critical decisions quickly. That means staying cool, calm, and collected in a critical situation. With this experience you will develop excellent professional competence and leadership qualities.
7. Run with HEART.
At HubSpot, our culture is defined by the fact that we have HEART – humble, empathic, adaptable, remarkable, transparent. We have a culture of amazing, growth minded people whose values include good judgment and solutions for the customer. These traits will help you develop expert power for being notable in your industry, but also humble enough to adapt and listen to those who have expert power in areas you don’t.
8. Be solution oriented.
As an aspiring manager, I always try to be solution-oriented. If you come to your manager with a problem, have some solutions ready. This will help you develop your expert strength as you will get instant feedback on your solutions from your manager. They can tell you from their experience if these solutions work and then you will improve your expertise with every problem you face.
Expert competency is something that is hugely important for aspiring leaders because it is this competency that gives you the ability to lead with confidence and humility. With these two things, you will be successful in whatever industry you choose.