What is Informational Power?
Informational power is the sixth base of power added by Raven in 1965, and it is the ability of an agent of influence to bring about change through the resource of information. It is based on access to facts and knowledge that others find useful or valuable, and it can be used to create a positive impression, build credibility, and persuade others. It is different from other forms of power in that it is grounded in the content of a specific situation and its power is transitory - once the information is shared, the power is gone. Informational power is often derived from asymmetric information, which is when one person has access to more data than another.
Informational power involves cognitive, positional, and personal power. Cognitive power is the ability to influence others through the use of information, ideas, and facts. Positional power is derived from a person's position or title, and it allows them to access and control certain sources of information. Personal power is the type of power that comes from the individual, and it involves the ability to use one's knowledge and expertise to influence others.
Types of Informational Power
- Expertise Power: Expert power is derived from a person’s expertise or knowledge base in a particular area. It is based on what the leader knows, the experience that they have, or their special skills. Expert power is different from informational power because it is specific to the expert, rather than any one individual. It is limited to the area of expertise and is based on the perception of knowledge that the expert has. Unlike informational power, expert power is earned by the individual and can be used to gain respect and influence. Additionally, expert power is more lasting and has more potential to shape decisions, as it is backed by a credible and respected individual.
- Knowledge of Information: Knowledge information is information derived from experience, observation, and research. It is the data and facts that we use to understand and make decisions in our daily lives. Knowledge information is characterized by its accuracy and reliability, as well as its ability to be used to inform decision-making. Knowledge information is often used by organizations to make decisions on how to run operations, develop strategies, and plan for the future. It is also used by individuals to make decisions about the world around them. Knowledge information is often used to identify trends and patterns, which can help inform decisions. Additionally, it can be used to identify areas of opportunity, such as new markets or new products. Knowledge information is also highly valued as it is often more accurate and reliable than information obtained from other sources.
- Word of Mouth: Word of mouth is one of the oldest and most effective marketing techniques. It is when people share their opinions, experiences, and stories about a product, service, or brand with their friends, family, and colleagues. This type of marketing relies on personal relationships and often happens spontaneously and organically. An example of word-of-mouth marketing is a customer giving a positive review of a product to a friend, who then decides to buy the product themselves. Word of mouth is an effective strategy for building credibility and trust among potential customers and is also a great way to build a positive brand image.
- Sources of Information: Information can come from a variety of sources, including conversations, meetings, research, and observations. Conversation can include discussions with colleagues or professionals in the same field, while meetings can involve both formal and informal gatherings. Research can include online research, reading books and articles, or scouring databases for information. Observations can involve watching a process or learning by doing. All of these sources can provide a wealth of information that can be used to make decisions or take action.
- Credibility: Credibility is the extent to which a source is believed to be reliable and trustworthy. It is an important factor in social communication, as it influences the power strategies used in persuasion. Characteristics of credibility include trustworthiness, expertise, experience, and integrity. People with high credibility are seen as having a greater influence than those with low credibility. People with high credibility are also seen as being more likely to be successful in negotiations and other communication situations. Credibility can be established through various means, such as displaying expertise, building relationships, and demonstrating a track record of success.
- Ability to Influence Others: The ability to influence others refers to the power that an individual or group holds to cause a change in the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of another person or group. This power can be used to motivate, persuade, and encourage, or to manipulate and control. Characteristics of influential power may include the ability to inspire, command, or persuade others; the ability to set a good example; the ability to provide knowledge, skills, or resources; and the ability to neutralize negative energy. The six main sources of influence are known as referent power, expert power, legitimate power, reward power, coercive power, and informational power. Referent power is the ability to influence another through appeal or attraction. Expert power is the ability to influence others through expertise, knowledge, or skill. Legitimate power is the ability to influence through an official position or title. Reward power is the ability to influence another through incentivization. Coercive power is the ability to influence another through fear or threats. Informational power is the ability to influence another through the sharing of ideas, information, or facts.
- Access to Information: Information access is the ability to gain access to information, either through direct access or through the transfer of data. It can be seen as a form of informational power, in which an individual or organization holds a degree of monopoly over data due to its access to it. Access to information can take many forms, including the ability to retrieve, transmit, store, or modify data. Common characteristics of information access include the ability to control who has access to the information, the ability to set restrictions on access, and the ability to restrict the use of the information. Access to information can be an important asset for individuals and organizations, as the ability to control and manage data can provide an edge in decision-making. Access to information can also have security implications, as unauthorized access to confidential information can have serious repercussions.
- Ability to Share Information: Information power is the ability to share information with the people around you in order to influence their decisions and actions. It is a form of social power that can be wielded by anyone, regardless of their position or authority. Information power can be broken down into several different subtypes:
- Expertise/Knowledge: This type of information power is based on the individual’s expertise and knowledge of a certain topic or field. By having more knowledge and insight than others, individuals can use this to their advantage and influence the decisions of those around them.
- Access/Possession: This type of information power relies on the individual having access to or possession of certain information that others need or want. By controlling access to information, the individual can use this as a bargaining tool to gain power and influence.
- Confidentiality/Discretion: This type of information power involves the individual being careful with the information they share and who they share it with. By being selective and discreet with their information, they can gain the trust of others and influence their decisions.
- Rumor/Gossip: This type of information power is based on the individual spreading rumors and gossip. While this can be effective in gaining power, it can also backfire if it is found to be false.
- Informing/Guiding: This type of information power involves the individual providing accurate and helpful information to help guide the decisions of those around them. By being the go-to source of reliable information, the individual can gain respect and influence.
- Ability to Secretly Collect Information: The ability to secretly collect information is known as informational power. It is the ability to withhold or divulge powerful information that can be used for strategic advantage. This type of power differs from the other five types of power in that the content of the situation is the direct source of power. An example of informational power is when a manager is present for a conference call in which the company's corporate headquarters announces downsizing. The manager has information that is valuable to the rest of the staff and so they have information power. They can choose to share the news or keep it to themselves. Another example is when a person is well-connected and taps into lots of sources to collect different information than their team. This can give them an advantage in meetings, conversations, and research as they have access to different information than the rest of their team. Informational power is a great way to boost influence in a team, but it must be used correctly. It is important to cultivate sources that others don't have, make sure the information is accurate, and share it openly. Discretion is also important as not everything needs to be widely shared, especially if it is personal or sensitive information.
- Knowledge of Goals and Plans: Knowledge of goals and plans is the understanding of the objectives and strategies of an organization. It is the information that is available regarding an organization's objectives and plans and how it plans to achieve them. This knowledge is the foundation of informational power, that is, the power that comes from having access to and understanding of information. With knowledge of goals and plans, an individual can make decisions and provide advice that is based on the organization's objectives and plans. By having a clear understanding of the goals and plans of an organization, an individual can identify opportunities for improvement, and make better and more efficient decisions. Furthermore, knowledge of goals and plans can be used to influence the direction and decisions of the organization, providing the individual with the power to help shape its future.
Using Information for One's Own benefit with Informational Power
To understand your situation and use the information for your own benefit, start by evaluating the types of power you have in the workplace. Consider each of the six types of power and evaluate which types of power you have access to. Additionally, evaluate the amount of power you possess, such as if you have more legitimate power than the other five types of power. Once you have evaluated the type and amount of power you have, set a goal to achieve with your influence. This can be done by using the power you possess to reach a certain goal, such as increasing sales volume. After setting a goal, you need to understand the limits of your power. Create a list of each type of power you possess and determine the elements or outcomes that would limit your power. This will help you use your influence to the greatest degree. Finally, analyze the outcomes of the ways you used your power in the workplace. Evaluate how your influence caused a certain result, or assess how you could have performed differently in the future. Doing this will help you ensure you continue to use workplace power as a positive force and improve your habits in the future.
- Use legitimate power to get information
- Understand that Legitimate Power is a type of power derived from being in a higher position or role in an organization.
- Use the authority of your position to request information from those under you. For example, you can ask for reports, data or research that can be used in making decisions or forming strategies.
- Always be aware of how your power is being used and never abuse it. Make sure to be respectful and use your power responsibly.
- Use the information you get to inform decisions. Doing research and gathering data will help you to make the best decisions for your group or organization.
- Share the information you get with the team. Being generous with the information you have will help to build trust with your team and increase their respect for your leadership.
- Use reward power to get information
- Identify which reward best fits the task. Different employees may value different rewards, depending on their interests and motivations. Consider what tangible or intangible rewards could be offered in exchange for the information.
- Offer the reward in advance. Let the employee know what they will be getting in exchange for the information. This will help to motivate them to provide the information.
- Ensure the reward is desirable. The reward should be something that the employee wants or values. If the reward is not desirable, it will not motivate the employee to provide the information.
- Provide the reward after the information is received. The reward should be given only after the employee has provided the requested information. This will show the employee that the reward is contingent upon the completion of the task.
- Monitor results over time. If the rewards are not resulting in the desired information, consider changing the reward or offering more incentives. Rewards may need to be adjusted over time to ensure they are motivating employees to provide information.
How to counter the effects of having little or no informational power
- Investigate and understand the situation: Investigating and understanding the situation can help people counteract the effects of having little or no informational power by maximizing their communication network and tapping into sources outside of their team. This can involve talking with people outside of the team, reading materials others are not reading, and engaging in research to find new information. Additionally, evaluating the type and amount of power one has can help one understand their limits and create achievable goals. Analyzing the outcomes of using power can help people use their influence effectively, as well as prevent them from abusing their power.
- Ask questions: Asking questions can be a powerful tool when it comes to counteracting the effects of having little or no informational power. By gathering information and insights from others, you can gain a better understanding of the situation and make more informed decisions. Asking questions will also help you to identify possible solutions or paths of action that you may not have considered before. Additionally, asking questions allows you to engage in dialogue and exchange ideas, which can build relationships and create a sense of shared understanding. Ultimately, asking questions is an effective way to increase your informational power and make sure you have the necessary information to make the best decisions.
- Read up on the subject: Reading up on a subject can help someone overcome the effects of having little or no informational power by providing them with knowledge and know-how that is more enduring than informational power. By doing so, they can acquire the necessary expertise in an area that can be used to demonstrate their capabilities and gain respect from others. Additionally, taking the time to research a subject can give people a deeper understanding of the topic, which can lead to more informed opinions and better decision-making. Finally, reading up on a subject can also help give people the confidence to engage in conversations and debates on the subject matter, thus expanding their network and developing new sources of information.
- Consult with others:
- Maximize your communication network by talking with people outside the team and reading things that others aren’t reading.
- Use the information you gather generously, and don’t be a hoarder. Share what you know with your team, so that they can benefit from the information you have acquired.
- Use the information you have gathered to inform a decision. If a problem arises that your team is attempting to solve, provide them with the facts they need to make an informed decision.
- Use the information you have gathered to build trust and credibility with your team. Be selective in what information you pass on. Sharing rumors or falsifying information will only make your team distrustful of you.
- Use discretion when handling sensitive information. If the information you have acquired is private or has the potential to be harmful, it is best to keep it to yourself.
- Consult with others when you don’t have enough information. This can be done by holding small meetings with members of your team or by conducting research on the internet.
- Seek consensus: Seeking consensus can help counteract the effects of having little or no informational power by allowing everyone to have a voice and be heard. When all team members feel that their ideas and opinions are valued, it increases trust and helps to create a collaborative environment where all members can contribute meaningfully. This eliminates the need for one person to have informational power and instead encourages everyone to contribute ideas and solutions. Furthermore, making decisions as a team, it ensures that more perspectives and experiences are taken into account, resulting in better solutions that are beneficial to the team as a whole.
- Try to understand the decision-making process: Understanding the decision-making process can help people who have little or no informational power as it allows them to gain insight into the factors that have an effect on the decisions being made. By understanding the causes and effects of the decisions, those who lack informational power can develop strategies to influence decisions that are more beneficial to them. This can include building relationships with people who have more power, using their expertise and skills to contribute to the decision, and having an understanding of how they can influence the decision-making process. By understanding the decision-making process, those with limited power can empower themselves to make their voices heard and have a greater impact on the decisions being made.
- Inform yourself and ask questions: In order to counter the effects of having little or no informational power, one must take an active role in seeking out and gathering information. Here are some steps to take to inform yourself and ask questions:
- Establish a strong network of communication. Reach out to people with different points of view and tap into a variety of sources, such as conversations, meetings, research, and the internet.
- Share information generously. Become a go-to source for useful information and help your team make informed decisions.
- Don’t hoard information. By sharing what you know, you can build trust and credibility among your team.
- Use the information to inform decisions. When solving a problem, make sure to provide the necessary facts and information.
- Use discretion. If the information is sensitive, keep it to yourself.
By following these steps, you can become an informed and knowledgeable member of the team, even if you lack the traditional power or authority.
- Read the organization's documents and publications: Reading documents and publications can be a powerful way to counteract the effects of having little or no informational power. By staying up to date on issues and topics, staying connected to different sources of knowledge, and collecting the latest information from a variety of sources, it is possible to create a powerful and reliable source of information that can be used to make informed decisions. By going beyond the traditional sources of information such as conversations, meetings, and the internet, you can access valuable information that others may not have access to and gain insight into areas that may have been overlooked. By becoming an expert in your chosen field, you can not only build credibility but also increase your credibility by having an informed opinion on topics. By reading documents and publications, you can also stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in your industry, which can help you to make better decisions and stay ahead of the competition.
- Ask for feedback: How can you get feedback on how your informational power affects others?
- Analyze the outcomes of the ways you used your power in the workplace. Once you have put your information to work, evaluate the results of your actions. Ask yourself, did I get the results I was expecting?
- Ask other team members for their opinion. Open and honest communication is key to getting feedback. Talk with your team members about how they felt your use of power impacted the team. Ask for their honest opinion and be open to constructive criticism.
- Seek out feedback from people outside the team. Ask people from other departments or organizations for their perspectives on how your informational power affected them. This can help you gain a more objective view of how you are perceived by others.
- Track and measure data. Keep track of the data that you are receiving and measure it over time. This can give you indications of any patterns or trends in how people are responding to your informational power.
- Ask for feedback from those you influence. Request feedback on how your use of power is impacting those you influence. This can be a good indication of how effective you are in using your information to make decisions.
- Analyze your own behavior. Take a step back and look at your own behavior objectively. Ask yourself if you are being a responsible leader and if you are using your informational power in a positive way.
- Utilize informational tools
- Identify Sources of Information. There are many sources of information that can be used to build informational power. These include conversations with colleagues, researching online, attending meetings, and gathering data from competitors.
- Use Technology Tools. Technology can help counter the effects of having little or no informational power. Tools like online collaboration software and data analysis tools can be used to collect and analyze data, share information quickly, and work with colleagues in real time.