Leadership for experts: First among equals

Árelía Eydís Guðmundsdóttir, Elin Blöndal


The article deals with manifestations of power in the relations between managers and knowledge-workers and the challenges that managers face in that context. The data retrieval was based on qualitative methodology and nine semi-structured interviews were conducted, with three managers and six employees, within three different organizations, a ministry, university and a bank. The main conclusions indicate that power is an important factor in successful management of knowledge-workers and that effective managers rely on their personal power, that is their expert and referent power, rather than formal power. The conclusions also indicate that the specialities of knowledge-workers, among other things the power they possess, make certain demands to the manager and his governance. The managers viewed themselves as the equals rather than the managers of the knowledge-workers. The conclusions also demonstrate how important it is for the managers to have good communication skills. Among other things it appeared that the managers need to exercise their power through rhetoric and persuasion.


Leadership; knowledge workers; power.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2017.13.2.5


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