Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Knowledge Is Power

Many managers and leaders often fall under the impression that one of the most effective ways to enhance their worth and their career is by hoarding knowledge. “Knowledge is power” they believe and, therefore, the best way to accumulate power is by becoming indispensable, by knowing things that others don’t know and by sharing that information very judiciously.

Sadly, at the lower levels of the organization where the manager is also the technical expert this strategy seems to work. Since the manager knows things that others in the department do not, they control the solutions to sticky problems and are rewarded for solving issues that their team did not.

Of course, this is not a long term solution for success. The higher one moves in the organization the less you are a technical expert. Hoarding knowledge is no longer a source of power, but now saps your power and limits your ability to find solutions and demonstrate your value to the organization.

None the less it is true. Knowledge is power. But, as you move up the organization, the power comes not from hoarding that knowledge but from sharing it as broadly as possible. In fact, the more you share information the more powerful you become in an organization.

Experienced managers understand that their success is not tied to how well they perform individually but to how well their team performs. No longer are they praised for their personal and technical knowledge. Instead, team results take the spotlight and they find themselves being measured for the performance of their organization. And, the best way to ensure that their organization performs up to expectations is to ensure that they have all of the knowledge and information that they need to be successful.

This can be an enormous paradigm shift for someone who has always viewed themselves as the technical expert and has been consistently rewarded for their ability to solve problems. It requires an entirely different mindset to acknowledge that others who are closer to the details may be better able to determine complex solutions. But, acknowledging that you are no longer the technical experts is one of the keys to moving yourself up the value chain in the organization. Instead of your value coming from your detailed knowledge, your value and your power now emanate from the performance of your team.

Managers who grasp this concept not only begin to share their knowledge more readily and reward those around them who share knowledge, but are also the managers who move up the ladder to higher levels of responsibility. Understanding that the power of knowledge is expanded, rather than weakened, through sharing is what separates those managers who top out their career quickly from those who continue to grow and move up in the organization.

Sharing knowledge has another benefit that is not commonly recognized. The sharing of knowledge in your organization actually creates a new level of employee engagement. But, I will write more about that next week.

I hope that you enjoyed this article. At ECI Learning Systems LLC we are dedicated to improving productivity and profitability by creating engaged organizations. Our unique combination of training and personalized coaching, combined with our expertise in assessments allow us to create a development plan tailored for your success.

Until next week,

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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