Influential Leadership through Knowledge Essay Example

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Influential Leadership through Knowledge


Leadership is defined as the art as well as practice of attaining results that are desired by a leader through other people. An effective leader must have the qualities of influence (FEMA 2005, p.22). In other words, effective leaders must be influential. Influence is always known to be involved with acting or the power of generating an effect without necessarily exerting force or directly exercising power of command. Therefore, influential leadership is one that is said to rely on influence when leading instead of coercion. It is a form of leadership whose purpose is to create followers who have the willingness of following as opposed to those who have believe that they must follow.

In their influential capacity, leaders require knowledge so as to effectively lead others in organizations and also in other aspects. Therefore, they have the responsibility of creating an environment that allows participation of everyone in the process of learning and developing in the organization (Mahoney 2000, p.241). This is an indication that leaders must keep in pace with the need of understanding the role of knowledge in achieving influential leadership. Bailey and Clarke (2000, p.235) state that, leaders have a responsibility of grasping a clear personal utility, relevance, as well as organizational significance of knowledge management. Based on these assertions, this assignment aims at providing a review of literature on this topic of influential leadership through knowledge and critically analyzes the various theories that underpin the dominant themes that are established in the literature. A reflection on the relevance of this work to practice as well as the ethical implications will be presented.

Review of Literature

Knowledge sharing and transfer in an organization is usually carried out using an information system that is available or installed within the organization. However, the transfer and sharing on knowledge within an organization may be hinders by various barriers. This hinders effective communication between organizational leaders or the management and the employees. It has been established that effective knowledge transfer and sharing enhances knowledge management of leaders in organizations and therefore improving their leadership. The management of any organization has a responsibility of ensuring that knowledge sharing and transfer is effectively delivered for the smooth operations in the company. According to Bollinger and Smith (2001, p.14), knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing serves a good purpose in knowledge management. Generally, knowledge management in an organization usually focuses on information sharing for the benefit of the business. Hence, sharing, collaboration as well as using possible strategic resources for communication is essential.

Solli-Sæther & Karlsen (2014) carried out a study about the enablers and barriers of knowledge sharing for offshore outsource ISD project. The authors were aimed at finding out the effects of enablers as well as barriers that hinder knowledge transfer and sharing in offshore ISD projects. According to Solli-Sæther & Karlsen (2014), it is evident that many of the firms usually increase their flexibility as well as raise the capacity of their information systems development (ISD) through the exploitation of qualified personnel. ISD is a knowledge intensive activity; therefore, knowledge sharing is critical in the context of offshore outsourcing. The researchers noted that it is necessary to have an understanding of knowledge organizations. This is an initiative that can help leaders in developing strategies that are effective as well as contingent in increasing knowledge sharing. The study results revealed that the exchange of knowledge in projects is faced with various enablers and barriers which can e physical, virtual, social as well as technological. The enablers of knowledge transfer and sharing are structural, political, personal as well as cultural. These factors play a major role in the facilitation of knowledge sharing in organizations. This is an indication that leaders need to recognize these enabling factors of knowledge transfer and sharing within the organization and ensure they work towards the achievement of effective knowledge sharing. Additionally, the scrum methodology was recommended as an enabler for knowledge sharing through better coordination, communication as well as transfer of information among parties. However, the researchers revealed various barriers to knowledge transfer and sharing. They included cultural heterogeneity, difference personalities, poor infrastructure, personal interaction and time differences.

Influential leaders are found to learn from failures. They take the initiative of handling project failure as well as learning from the lessons. Shepherd, Patzelt, & Wolfe (2011) did a study on moving forward from project failure: negative emotions, affective commitment as well as learning from the experience. This is a study that is relevant to influential leaders and what they can learn from what the researchers revealed. As per the authors, leaders should recognize that project failures are common. It is the duty of leaders to take the positive view of the project failures. They should be strong enough in coping with the negative emotions from the failure of projects.

Additionally, the authors established that the wounds occurring from project failure is usually shallower for people who take view that the organization has the capacity of normalizing the failure. The researchers Shepherd, Patzelt, & Wolfe (2011) considered that learning from the project failure as well as affective commitment to the company usually determines the capacity of an individual to move forward from the project failure. Organization leaders are now called upon to take this initiative and not to concentrate on the project losses but learn from the failure and ways in which they can come out of the situation for the organization success.

Influential leaders recognize the need for teams and networks that work together in achieving project goals. As an effective leader forming teams and networks should be a priority during leadership for the achievement of success. The emphasis here is that teams alone will not help in effectively achieving the intended outcomes. Networks are essential too. Cummings & Pletcher (2012) undertook a study about why project networks beat project teams. These researchers stated that finding the expertise of handling team projects that are complex as well as knowledge intensive is usually challenging. Therefore, the purpose of project networks is very essential in these circumstances. In their research, Cummings & Pletcher (2012) revealed that project networks are essential to enable a project team in maintaining the stability of project team members while tapping into the expertise in the needed team members’ personal networks. Non-routine, complex as well as projects that need sophisticated knowledge have been identified as challenging to managers in today’s organizations. They need expertise in tackling the projects that are knowledge intensive which may be complicated, unexpected and also scarcely distributed across the organization. Assembling of teams to work on these complicated tasks by managers may not help in achieving results that are desired. The reason is that team working of projects that are knowledge intensive is affected by various factors. Therefore, formation of project networks will help in overcoming these factors that may influence team members in achieving the desired results of the project.

Influential leadership is enhanced by gaining power and influence from the organizational team and stakeholders. Luu (2013) carried out a study about corporate social responsibility, upward influence behavior, team processes as well as competitive intelligence. Luu was aiming at establishing whether CSR has an influence on the upward influence of behavior which is seen working towards catalyzing team processes as well as competitive intelligence scanning. The finding of the study revealed that ethical CSR plays a major role in cultivating upward influence behavior that is beneficial to the organization. This is an applicable aspect in influential leadership that should focus on establishing CSR relationships that recognize ethical responsibility for the organization to all its stakeholders. This helps the leaders in gaining power and influence within the organization and in teams.

Influential leadership through knowledge is highly depended on leaders who have the capacity of leading positive change within the organization. It is important for leaders to understand that the knowledge of a project depends on a successful change implementation within the team organization. Fullan (2014) undertook a study and came up with a personal action guide and a workbook on leading in a culture of change. In his study, Fullan wanted to come up with a solution on how leaders in organization can be able to counter the new as well as daunting challenges that are rapidly occurring as a result of technology change, shifts in the market and crisis in the public. If organizations are to survive in these circumstances, then, organizational leaders are required to develop the skills that are necessary in leading effectively irrespective of the fast changing world around them. Leaders can lead positive change by practicing the five core competencies of leadership including cultivating relationships, setting a vision as well as a context of creating coherence in the organization and staying on top of the change process. These are competencies that all influential leaders must exercise to lead positive change within the organization. They are able to deal with any that is complex and have the capacity to mobilize their teams in doing work that is important and difficult in situations of constant change.

Critical Analysis of Theories that Underpin the Dominant Themes

The dominant themes that arise from the review of literature include, knowledge management, learning, using in networks and teams in achieving results in projects that require complex knowledge, capacity to gain power and influence as well as leading to positive change. The major theories that underpin the above dominant themes are the transformational leadership theory, path-goal theory and skills theory.

Transformational Leadership Theory

The transformational leadership theory was formulated by Burns (1978) and stipulates that the concept of transformation is the core of transformation leadership or change that is needed to be executed in an organization. Based on this theory, transformational leadership clearly reflects the change that is required in organizations (Crawford 2005, p.4). This is a theory that well underpins the themes in the literature since it advocates for leaders and followers raising one another to greater levels of morality as well as motivation. The theory advocates for influential leaders to have the capacity of cultivating the needs of the followers in a person centered manner. According to Brown (1994), transformational leaders are required in the evolving technological society to achieve accelerated change. Here, the attitude as well as the behavior of the leader must be that of transformational leaders who are ready to embrace change and lead others through positive change. Transformational leaders have the capacity of removing fear and enhance motivation for team members. This works towards meeting the demands of the market faster and better.

Path-Goal Theory

The path-goal theory is majorly concerned with the way leaders work towards motivating their followers so as to achieve defined objectives. As discussed in the literature, influential leaders must have the capacity to mobilize their teams and lead them towards achieving the goals of the organization. The path-goal theory postulates that leaders who are effective have the capacity of improving the follower’s motivation through clarification of the paths as well as removing obstacles in achieving high performance and desired objectives (Wolinski 2010, p.1). The fundamental beliefs on this theory are that individuals are focused and motivated more when they believe that they have the capability of achieving high performance, and believing that their effort are going to give the desired outcomes as well as their perform work that is worthwhile.

Skills Theory

The skills theory stipulates that knowledge that is learned and skills or capabilities that are acquired are the essential factors in the effective leadership practice. As per the literature, it has been established the leaders need to learn by acquiring knowledge to remain influential in their capacities as effective leaders. Therefore, the skills theory supports the connection between leadership traits that are inherited as well as the capacity of being an effective leader. The major argument is that leadership performance is enhanced through learned skills, acquired knowledge as well as a developed style of leadership.

Reflection of the Work to Practice

Influential leadership through leadership is essential in the work practice. The management as leaders in organizations has a responsibility to ensure that knowledge is transferred and shared among all employees and departments. All information systems should be accessible to all employees to share information that they require from the management and also communicate to their seniors in the company. leaders in the organization should have the knowledge that employees information needs must be met so as to understand the goals of the organization and what needs to be implemented to achieve the expected goals. A focus on employee needs is way of leaders demonstrate their accountability to their followers. This means that leaders must recognize what their followers who are the employees in the organization require so as to achieve the set objectives of the company. Further, any barriers to the dissemination of information within the work place should be eliminated to ensure that there is free flow of information from the management to the employees and from employees to the management.

In the work place, leaders can apply the initiative of learning from the failure of projects when it occurs. It is clear that not all projects in an organization succeed. There are times when some of the projects fail. Influential leaders in the organization should learn to keep calm when such storms occur. This is to say that project failures should be handled with a lot of wisdom not to dwell on the negatives and remain in one situation. The management as holding the organization leadership should learn from the failure and see areas that need to be improved to avoid such failures in future. Project failure in the work place should be taken as a learning base for the leaders to advocate for change in the weak areas.

Implementing project networks is an initiative that leaders in the workplace must embrace to ensure effective teams in executing projects that require complex knowledge. They should realize that project teams are not sufficient in achieving the desired results for projects that require knowledge that is complex. Project networks will be important when it comes to such projects since they are better than just having project teams. Additionally, the management in the organization should recognize the involvement of all stakeholders in decision making. This is essential to allow leadership gain influence and power in leading project teams within the organization. Leaders in the organization should also recognize change that is required in the workplace and guide employees through achieving positive change.

Ethical Implications

Ethics is one of the aspects of good leadership and applying ethical perspective in influential leadership is essential. What leaders in the workplace need to understand is that all workers need to be treated equally. All team players in the organization projects should be treated equally and with dignity. No one should be discriminated when sharing and transferring knowledge. Knowledge sharing by leaders should also recognize the cultural differences among employees in the company. Cultural and other barriers that may hinder information sharing should be minimized or eliminated to ensure not one fails to access information from the organization leadership based on their culture or ethnicity. Leaders should recognize that followers are driven by a moral need that must be satisfied if they are to follow the leader. To transform employees or team members it requires empathy, insight, consideration and understanding from the leaders. It is all about innovation, change as well as knowledge management. Coercion should never be used as a tool to make employees respond to change.


All in all, the literature on influential leadership through knowledge reaffirms that good leadership can be achieved by leaders having good channels of communication with team members. Any barriers to sharing of knowledge between the leader and the team should be eliminated. It has also been established that leaders should not give up their role of influencing the teams as a result of project failure. They should take the failure in a positive way and learn from the lessons of the failure. Networks should be essential tools that leaders should use if they are to achieve their goals in complex projects that require complex knowledge. Without them they may find it difficult to achieve the identified goals. Al stakeholder should be involved in the leadership decision making and ensure change is implemented in the organisation through a positive organization of the team. All these leadership issues should be put into practice in the workplace to ensure smooth running of operations and organisation projects. Influential leaders should also recognize the need for ethical considerations in knowledge management within the organisation. Without efficiency in influential leadership, organisations will have little to offer to its stakeholders.


Bailey, C., & Clarke, M, 2000, How do managers use knowledge about knowledge management? Journal of Knowledge Management Vol.4, Iss.3, pp.235-243

Bollinger, A. S., & Smith, R. D. (2001). Managing organizational knowledge as a strategic asset. Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 5, Iss.1, pp.8-18.

Crawford, C, 2005, Exploring the Relationship between Knowledge Management and Transformational Leadership, Knowledge and Management Leadership.

Cummings, J. & Pletcher, C. 2012, Why Project Networks Beat Project Teams, MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 52, no. 3.

FEMA, 2005, Leadership and Influence. Independent Study . Available from <>

Fullan, M. (2014). Leading in a culture of change. Personal action guide and workbook. John Wiley & Sons.

Luu, T, 2013, Corporate social responsibility, upward influence behaviour, team processes and competitive intelligence, Team Performance Management: An International Journal, Vol. 19, Iss: 1/2, pp.6 – 33.

Mahoney, R, 2000, Leadership and learning organizations, The Learning Organization, Vol.7, Iss.5, pp.241-243.

Shepherd, D., Patzelt, H., & Wolfe, M, 2011, Moving Forward From Project Failure: Negative Emotions, Affective Commitment, And Learning From The Experience, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 54, No. 6, pp.1229–1259.

Solli-Sæther, H., & Karlsen, J. T. (2014). Enablers and Barriers of Knowledge Sharing for Offshore Outsource ISD Project: A Case Study. International Journal of Information Technology Project Management (IJITPM)5(2), 44-59.

Wolinski, S, 2010, Leadership Theories, Leadership. Available at: <>