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Influence In The Leadership Arena

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This month I’d like to write about the way leaders lead. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some inspiring leaders, some motivating leaders, and some competent leaders. Throughout my 60 years, however, I’ve known more controlling leaders than I care to talk about. When controlling leaders learn to let go and encourage employees to be creative, their employees will take ownership of the work, commit to the values or culture of the organization or company, and become more efficient and loyal learners.

There is one powerful characteristic that bodes very well in the leadership arena and that is Influence. Ralph wrote in one of his workbooks, “It is the art of helping, nudging, allowing and moving people to the place they need to go for their companies or organizations while insuring that they enjoy the journey.” To be an influential leader, there are sub-characteristics that are required and we think the following “influences” are the keys to success.

  • Persuasion
  • Charisma
  • Skillful Coaching
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Relationship Building
  • Hunger to Educate
  • Presentation
  • Transparency

You may already know about the three styles of leadership decision making: Directive, Consultative, and Collaborative. All three styles are necessary and particularly the last two styles can motivate, inspire and mentor/coach people to learn, grow, develop, and be productive employees. The Directive style has been the “traditional” style since the beginning of the industrial revolution and has gotten us through much of the 20th century. Toward the end of the 20th century, however, many companies and organizations throughout the world have realized the importance of influencing, rather than controlling and the results have been extraordinary.

There’s an art to influencing people:

  • To effectively influence people requires us to have a good grasp of human dynamics and what creates positive environments, participation by the people involved, time management, good design, quality delivery, real patience and follow-through.
  • It is essential to know how hard to push and when to bend to a point, when to lead and when to follow, plus when to craft learning points to help people to learn, grow, and develop.

Here are some explanations of what it looks like to lead with influencing characteristics:

Persuasion - Asking for people’s ideas on what can be done or how to deal with their own problems need a certain amount of persuasion. I don’t mean that you need to dangle a carrot in front of folks, but rather, help them to understand by asking open-ended, thoughtful questions to lead them in the direction that sets them up for success.

Charisma - Modeling behaviors that are upbeat, positive, appreciate in nature, and using appropriate body language to support the behaviors are the elements of charisma in a leader. If we model disgruntled, impatient, and apathetic behaviors, employees will notice and will follow our lead. If we smile, laugh, engage in other people to let them know we care about them as well as the company’s bottom line, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Having passion for work shows and it is infectious.

Skillful Coaching - Leaders who mentor or coach others to develop and grow will always have success. Not only will the coach or mentor improve his or her own career by coaching others as a way of life, employees will model and development their careers and so on. Your organization or company will thrive in this supportive environment.

Positive Reinforcement - The old saying, “Results rewarded are results repeated”, pretty much says it all. People need to succeed and it is our job as leaders to help them by appreciating their talents and approaching them with more positive, rather than negative, feedback. Always make sure to follow up and to keep your promises, which will solidify positive reinforcement.

Relationship Building - Leaders who have a hard time building relationships or who are not approachable to their employees have trouble keeping the exceptional ones in their organization or company. There’s almost always some dysfunctional behavior going on in such an environment, such as conflict within and between departments, and wasted time and energy putting out the fires of dramas and missed deadlines. Leaders who can build relationships, who genuinely like their employees and take the time to engage with them and care about what they need to do the work as efficiently and effectively as they can, by far make the very best leaders.

Hunger to Education - Creating an environment to learn, train, and facilitate growth and development may cost a bit more to an organization’s or company’s budget to educate their employees, but the rewards are endless and the company stays alive and well. Educating employees is a great benefit and is a great way to say, “Thank you”, and at the same time, leaders are benefiting from their loyal and smart employees.

Presentation - As leaders, knowing how to present our thoughts, feedback, and company information is important. People are more apt to be engaged in a good presentation and will pay attention and learn something from it. Adding visuals, humor, participation, and positive energy will capture the attention of your employees. This shows a great deal of personal organization and instills confidence in the workplace.

Transparency - This word is often used these days and simply means to be honest about how the company is doing and to talk about the important issues, to give the important feedback, and to live by the vision, values and culture of the organization. If leaders divulge as much as they can, workers and employees will be able to make improvements and execute on new processes because they are getting all the info to get the work done. Company trust and loyalty will be abundant.

All of the above characteristics of an influential leader create lots of successful outcomes, profits, and happy, working people, and that includes the influencing leader!

Thanks for reading this article and we welcome your comments!

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Lorraine Twombly
Priority Learning



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