credible when they can be trusted
to do what they say they will and
treat people fairly and honestly,”
says Melissa Fairman, senior HR
manager for Mickey Thompson
Tires & Wheels, a Cleveland-area
automotive performance aftermar-ket company.
Fairman reports directly to the
company president and is responsible for setting the strategic direction
of the HR function as well as managing the HR team.
After serving as an HR assistant
early in her career, Fairman moved
through various jobs until she landed
her current senior leadership position.
Interestingly, the role that may have
taught her the most about referent
power was her frst job out of college—
as a customer service rep—because it
showed her the importance of being
considerate to others.
“Nothing can ruin the integrity
and reputation of an HR department as easily as treating employees
poorly,” Fairman says. “If you have
shot your credibility by partaking in
ofce gossip, sharing confdential information, or acting in an immature
or unprofessional manner, very few
people will trust you.” Then, instead
of turning to you for help, employees
may turn against you.
2. EXPERT POWER
People with expert power can infuence others based on their knowledge. Of course, you naturally cultivate skills and experience through
seniority, but you should also take
the initiative to develop specialized
areas of expertise.
“Find a niche and build your reputation around it,” says Dorie Clark,
adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and
author of Stand Out: How to Find
Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a
Following (Portfolio, 2015). Conard,
for example, is known as an authority in technical recruiting.
Credentials are another way to
demonstrate mastery. Fairman pur-
sued a master’s degree in business
administration with a focus on HR
and earned an HR certifcation
focused on the competencies critical
to the profession.
Educate yourself about the busi-
ness as well. When you understand
leadership values and priorities, you
are in a better position to create
HR processes that are strategically
aligned with the company’s goals.
“If leaders view HR as a support
function that is not essential to the
core business, they won’t want to
fund it or support it,” Clark says.
“When speaking about your work,
cite hard statistics and the business
results that it produced.”
Professionals with expert power
build an aura of credibility.
3. EXECUTIVE PRESENCE POWER
Many HR professionals work behind
the scenes to support others’ careers.
But sometimes you need to emerge
from the shadows if you want to be
viewed as a leader.
Research by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), a nonproft
research organization in New York
City, concluded that leadership roles
are typically given to those who
already act the part.
That’s why developing an executive presence is important. In a
recent CTI study, 67 percent of executives identifed “gravitas”—which
comes from exuding confdence,
acting decisively, projecting vision
and demonstrating emotional intelligence—as a core characteristic of
Being willing to stand up for what
you believe in is also critical, according to Sandra Zimmer, president
and founder of the Self-Expression
Center in Houston. That means putting your foot down and
stepping up to the plate,
even in hard times or when
decisions are unpopular,
says Zimmer, who helps
emerging leaders develop
greater executive presence.
“You have to speak
up and contribute your
insights,” says Zimmer, author of It’s
Your Time to Shine: How to Over-
come Fear of Public Speaking, De-
velop Authentic Presence and Speak
from Your Heart (Self-Expression
Indeed, people with executive
presence are skillful communi-
cators. You can develop your own
voice in a way that highlights your
talents, style and expertise, wheth-
er that’s through public speaking,
e-mail or everyday conversation.
For Fairman, it included creating
the HR ReMix blog to showcase
her writing ability, expand her HR
network, and discuss leadership and
organizational development issues
with her peers.
4. IMPACT POWER
“Position doesn’t defne power,” says
Mindy Grossman, president and
CEO of Weight Watchers in New
York. “Impact defnes power. What
impact are you having on people?
What impact are you having on the
business? Power comes from the
relationships you build and the value
that you add.”
One way to become indispensable
within a network is to make your-
self a “hub” by building connections
with disparate people and groups,
according to Clark. She cites an ex-
ample of a friend who expanded her
circle of infuence by having lunch
each week with people who worked
in diferent departments in her
company. This enabled the woman
to access information that others
didn’t have while also expanding the
number of people she could help and
“That is powerful,” Clark says.
“That is career insurance.”
Arlene S. Hirsch, M. A.,
LCPC, is a career counselor and author with a private practice in Chicago.