Recently, I was teaching about social influence and the 6 types of social power. The students wanted to know how to differentiate between Expert and Informational Power.
I explained to them that information is like a pail of water and the expert is the well it’s drawn from. Once drawn out, and used, the water is no longer useful. The well, on the other hand, retains its usefulness. An expert always has knowledge, and is more powerful as a result.
To help them understand why informational power is transient, i gave them the following example:
Teacher A holds access to website resources and keeps it a guarded secret. Once the students figure out where she gets her materials from, then the power shifts away.
On the other hand, teacher B, who shares her resources, doesn’t depend on them for power. Rather, her’s is based on experience and wisdom in teaching that subject, which no student can figure out. Her power lies in knowing how to guide the students for the exam.
In life, we tend to hold on to information which are treated as currency. In reality, though, this attitude only highlights the inadequacy/inexperience of a person. A true professional will always be like the well. The more people benefit from you the more valuable, indispensable you become.