Leading with Influence

Leading with Influence

What does it mean to lead with influence?  Leading with influence is the ability to facilitate, inspire and motivate a group of people to accomplish a common goal. The ability to achieve desired results through others without intimidation and to create followers who desire to be led are key traits of influential leadership.  

The ability to influence outcomes or performance requires more than relying on a leader's innate abilities and job title. Many new organizational leaders assume their position or title automatically gives them influence over the actions, behaviors and opinions of others.  New leaders quickly learn that position or rank has little impact on others.  The essential leadership skill that differentiates an organizational leader from a manager is influence.   

Developing skills and competencies to influence others takes time and practice.  Here are 7 essential strategies and tips to help you become an influential leader:

Develop trust with your co-workers.  Leaders must be trust-worthy and convey this trait in every interaction.  This involves being consistent in your behaviors and actions and keeping your commitments.  Saying one thing and doing something else will swiftly and permanently destroy a leader’s credibility and ability to influence. 

Know your team or co-workers.  Getting to know your co-workers will go a long way toward developing effective, trusting and lasting relationships.  This doesn’t mean developing close personal relationships, but it does mean tapping into what motivates them, as well as their career aspirations and accomplishments.

Be authentic.  Developing genuine, sincere and honest working relationship helps build credibility and earn respect from others.  When co-workers believe they have access to the "real" leader, it reduces fear and feelings of deception.  

Develop empathetic listening skills.  This skill goes right along with building trust and requires the ability to place yourself in a position to understand the other person’s point of view, their problem and how they feel without judging them.  Leaders who practice this skill will ultimately develop trust, cooperation and collaboration from others.    

Promote others through mentoring.  Other employees who exemplify strong leadership qualities need mentoring and a safe environment to practice leading.  Whether its giving them more responsibility or allowing them to lead a project, investing in their future shows your willingness to produce new leaders.

Be a positive force in your environment.  Positive behavior is contagious.  Leaders who are consistently positive and encourage others are respected and in high demand during crisis or change management situations. 



Leaders and Emotional  Intelligence

Leaders and Emotional Intelligence

Today’s top executives pursue leadership talent capable of delivering high impact results across the organization.  It’s a well-documented fact that leaders who master the ability to manage and self-regulate their emotions are more effective and productive in the workplace.  This shifts Emotional Intelligence (EI) from a buzzword to a foundational skill for organizational leaders. 

Several researchers including Talent Smart and the Journal of Vocational Behavior report that 90% of the top performers in the workplace have high EI.  Numerous publications report a direct correlation between EI and salaries, notably employees with high EI make $29,000 more annually than their low EI counterparts. 

All of this is great news for leaders in today’s fast paced, rapidly changing and complex digital business environment.  However, it takes more than hammering industry knowledge and technical skills into the minds of leaders to help them achieve goals and enhance the performance of others.  Emotional intelligence is a critical performance competency and a transformational skill that every organization should embrace and include in their learning toolbox. 

EI includes at least 5 key characteristics for individual mastery:  self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.   We’ve captured some useful tips and techniques to help leaders understand, improve and maximize emotional intelligence skills in these areas:

Be persistent and intentional about understanding your emotions and the resulting behaviors.   Remember: “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” (Charles Swindell).  As leaders, it may not be possible to control the words or actions of others.  It is possible to control how you react and respond. 

Take stock or inventory of your own emotional intelligence.  Complete an assessment tool to better understand your EI strengths and weaknesses.  Use the scores to create an action plan or checklist.  Be sure to set both short and long-term goals for improvement and track your progress.

Keep a daily journal of emotions, both comfortable and uncomfortable. The process of assessing the cause and effect of your emotions and their impact on you and others will help enhance your personal performance.  The “Five Why’s” is a great tool to help you dig deeper to uncover the why and how you respond in certain situations.

Be a good listener.  As a listener, your greatest asset is to hear and see the situation from another person’s perspective without judging.  After listening, be prepared to ask clarifying questions that will help resolve conflicts and move the situation forward.

Invest in yourself with training and skill practice.  Ask your organization if EI training is available or invest in online learning tools.

Identify trustworthy and knowledgeable accountability partner(s).  Solicit the support of co-workers, a boss, friends or family members who are willing to give candid and descriptive feedback about your display of helpful and unhelpful emotions and the impact on others.  Use their input to create an action plan or checklist.



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