The modern-day workplace often requires that leaders gain consensus across organizational boundaries, acquiring support from those who have no reporting relationship to them. In this environment, leaders cannot rely on established authority to get the job done. They need their peers to do more than just comply with a request; they need them to fully commit to their vision and work together to make it happen.
That’s why a leader’s effectiveness today largely depends on how effectively he or she is able to influence others.
Effective influencers understand what is important to others from an organizational perspective and at a personal level, taking into account their values and beliefs. There are many ways to do this, but some influencing tactics tend to be perceived more positively than others. These positive tactics tend to be the most effective at gaining commitment without damaging relationships.
OnPoint has studied influence extensively, collecting data on more than 220 leaders across organizations and industries. Our data has shown the most effective leaders use these four influencing tactics most often.
What It Is: Using logic and factual evidence to show a request is feasible and important. This is the most commonly used tactic among leaders and tends to be one of the most effective.
How It Sounds: “We need to have the new software program completed by Friday so we have a full month to test it, run a quality audit and make adjustments before we roll it out to our customers.”
Best Used When: You have established credibility within the group and others trust your judgment.
What It Is: Asking another person to suggest improvements or help plan a proposed activity for which they need the person’s support. Consultation is the second most common tactic. Leaders who use this tactic often were more likely to be rated very effective, according to our research.
How It Sounds: “Based on your experience with similar projects, could you give us your assessment of where we stand on this and how we can move this process along to reach our target deadline?”
Best Used When: When others have information and experience you do not and when you are willing and able to act on the ideas and suggestions of others.
What It Is: Offering to provide relevant resources or assistance to make it less difficult for the other person carry out a request or approve a change.
How It Sounds: “It sounds like you need some extra support to get this done by Friday. I’ll bring in an extra developer to assist. Is there anything else I can do to help?”
Best Used When: Your request is perceived to be too difficult given the other person’s priorities and the resources they have available.
What It Is: Encouraging others to accomplish a shared goal by appealing to their values, belief and emotions. This tactic is less common and more frequently used by women. Our research also found the higher a leader’s position, the more likely he or she is to use inspirational appeals. We also found that managers rated as effective tend to use this tactic more frequently.
How It Sounds: “When the Indianapolis Colts were down by 28 in the second half of the playoffs game against the Kansas City Chiefs last year, they managed to score five touchdowns and make the biggest comeback in NFL history. Our competitor may be the ahead in the market now, but the sooner we release this new software, the sooner we can start making our own comeback. Who’s with me?”
Best Used When: You know what values and beliefs are important to individuals or the team and you are seen as a trusted advisor.
Recognizing these influencing tactics and making a conscious effort to use them strategically can help leaders sharpen their skills and accomplish more. However, leaders don’t often recognize these tactics as they’re using them.
This interactive guide outlines the fundamentals of effective influencing behaviors, when to use them and how influence varies across cultures and gender. It’s based on our own research and research from others in this area.
Take the first step toward empowering your leaders by exploring the guide and sharing it with your teams.