Influential Leadership Skills That Will Move Others

What skills do influential leaders possess? How do you use an influential team member to help your company?

Influential leaders are those who can get others on board with their ideas. In their book Strengths Based Leadership, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie give advice for people who are highly influential in the workplace, including leaders and employees.

Read below to learn more about influential leadership skills.

Being an Influential Leader

A few influential leadership skills are confidence, persuasion, and the ability to impress others. For example, you may exude so much confidence when you step up to take control of a project that your team feels convinced you’re capable of succeeding, so they support you. To convince people who aren’t as easily swayed, you may have an instinct for knowing what team members or clients want to hear or see to help you get through to them.

For example, the president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Simon Cooper, knew his company’s strength was customer service and he capitalized on this to expand its influence. He confidently showed off his team to guests, which won him loyal clients. In one case, he invited the musician, Bono, to accompany him to a meeting with the hotel’s housekeeping staff. Cooper believed so strongly in his team’s excellent service that he broadened the company’s offerings to include private, luxury residences. Although many people questioned this risky expansion of the brand, Cooper’s confidence in his company won him many buyers, and the venture was successful. 

(Shortform note: In Just Listen, Mark Goulston says confidence plays a major role in influencing people, but whereas Cooper succeeded through the force of his own confidence, Goulston emphasizes the importance of instilling confidence in the person you’re trying to influence. Goulston explains that building confidence is a key final step to help people in an emotional state overcome the stress that distracts them from giving you their full attention. The other steps in Goulston’s approach to influencing a listener include asking what’s troubling them, encouraging them to vent to you, listening to them thoroughly, and giving them confidence to overcome their stress by empowering them and offering your help.)

Actionable: Influence for the Long Run

If you’re a leader who influences, you probably have many admirers and surface-level friendships. These can dilute your attention and prevent you from investing the time necessary to form long-lasting connections with people on your team. We all need long-term teammates we can trust, so Conchie and Rath say to take the time to develop deeper relationships.

If you have a team member who influences, place them at the face of your company. Because influencers have a natural ability to connect with and convince people, they’re well-suited for opportunities where they can advertise your company’s interests. For example, let them represent you at public events. 

Influence by Listening

Although Conchie and Rath say qualities like confidence and persuasion can help you influence others, in Just Listen, Goulston argues that a more passive approach to influencing is most effective. By effectively listening to the person you’re trying to persuade instead of proposing your ideas right away, Goulston explains that you’ll help the other person feel heard and understood. This will motivate them to listen to you in return. Once you have their attention, you can begin to introduce your ideas to the conversation.

Goulston explains that attentive listening is a necessary first step to influencing others because people are generally preoccupied with their own needs, emotions, and goals. Because of this, they’re typically closed off to any new ideas you introduce to them. However, once we acknowledge their circumstances and help them feel understood, they’ll be willing to reciprocate your attention. When this happens, you’ll have an opportunity to connect and communicate effectively.
Influential Leadership Skills That Will Move Others

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Gallup, Tom Rath, and Barry Conchie's "Strengths Based Leadership" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Strengths Based Leadership summary:

  • Why good leaders don't necessarily need to be well-rounded
  • Why you should build a diverse team to fill in your weaknesses
  • The four qualities of a leader that command respect

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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