6 Influence Strategies You Need to Lead

I had this really cool thought while on the treadmill the other day. Now, I have to tell you, being on a treadmill is not my favorite thing in the world. However, it has become an important part of my workout routine as my wife and I train for our next half-marathon in October. 

So I am jogging along at about a 4.7 miles per hour on the treadmill. My trainer calls this my base pace. That means that it is a pace I could theoretically keep up for 30 minutes or more if I had to do it. So I am jogging along at my comfortable 4.7 pace and my trainer Cynthia says, "Okay, everybody I want you to establish a new base. I want everyone to go 0.1mph faster." 

What! Get me out of my comfort zone? Are you kidding me?  

But you know what I did. I took my speed up 0.1mph

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That's when I had the thought: Cynthia has influence over me. Here is this petite female trainer giving me instruction over a microphone with 36 other people in a class at 6:15 in the morning, and what do I do? Exactly what she said to do. Why did I do that?

It is because Cynthia has influence over me.

Because I work for myself, I am able to make my own schedule when I am not traveling for training, and therefore could theoretically go to the gym whenever I please, but I don't. Why? Because even though I have a flexible schedule, I choose to go to the gym when I know there will be a trainer working who I like. This may sound like just a personal preference of mine, but it's more than that, and this kind of behavior probably shows up more in your life than you realize. My trainers’ likability and the friendship they show me along with their expertise in physical fitness that can make me a better runner makes me want to learn more from them. Likability and authority are actually keys for influencing others. 

As I was thinking about Cynthia’s influence over me in that moment it reminded me of what Robert Cialdini talks about in his book "Influence.” Cialdini has identified 6 influencing strategies that people use with each other.

Here is a summary of those strategies.

Influencing Strategies

Reciprocation: This is the idea that we do things in return for each other. Always share your strengths to help others, and return the favor when they do the same, even if your reciprocation is just a "thank you very much for your time." Let the kindness always end with you. 

Scarcity: "The rule of the rare," you can have influence when things like time and budget are scarce to be found. Help those around you see the urgency and the resources that are available. This type of influence must be used with integrity. When used wrongly it can hurt people and cost you your influence. The scarcity in the situation must be real. Don't create a deadline that you don't intend to stick to or fail to mention some possible solutions in order to create the appearance of scarcity.

Authority: This type of influence doesn't have to do with positional power like the word may suggest, but reverential power. Showing that you have the right data, an expert perspective will influence others. When you're the expert though, don't stop listening to others or you will lose your influence. If you walk in the room thinking you are the one with all the answers your expertise will not be heard. 

Commitment: This is the starting point of influence. If you are an influential leader, then those you lead will generally be committed rather than merely compliant. If you ask them to do something that's going to cost them some sacrifice you may see if they are committed or compliant. If they're committed they will do it with enthusiasm,  if not they may not do the task at all or they may do it begrudgingly. If you find they are compliant with your influence, reflect on how open you have been with them about your larger vision for the future of your work together. To gain commitment you must show them where they're going. 

Likability: As I mentioned earlier, building a friendship to build influence is important. Likability matters. A phrase I hear sometimes from clients is "I don't care about being liked, I just want to be respected." If that is you, I challenge you to take caution with that thought. When you are liked, you can gain as much influence as when you are respected. 

Consensus: "People-proof over people-power."  As you gain rapport with others and show that you have valuable knowledge, it will increase the success and value in others. It will be because of what you delivered, and this makes you more influential. 

Personalize One of These Strategies

Think about something you are trying to get done, maybe a change you are trying to get made, or a goal you are trying to help a team to reach.  Think through the influencing strategies above and identify the one you would like to try to implement to help you achieve your goal.

We all have different personalities that leave us with our own strengths and weaknesses, but for others to benefit from our influence, we must grow and adapt to better lead with influence in many types of relationships and situations. What kind of influence do you see on this list that comes the most naturally to you? The least? Leave a comment and let's chat about it!

What You Can Learn from NFL Coaches to Get to the Superbowl in Your Career

This week I am happy to share this blog space with Gretchen Holcomb. Gretchen is spending a few months fine-tuning some things in our organization before going off to Spain for a year to teach English as a second language. I hope you enjoy her perspective on coaching and leadership.


February is an exciting month for football fans across the nation as we come to the pinnacle of the NFL season, the Superbowl.

This Sunday night, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will face off to determine who will be the Superbowl 50 Champion!

Although it is an exciting time for the players on the field, I can't help but think what it must be like for the coaches who saw the big picture, planned the strategy that got them this far, and wonder how they might be handling the pressure. Whether or not you are fan of either of these teams, I believe we can learn a lot from coaches Ron Rivera and Gary Kubiak that we can apply to our own playing field.

They Know Who they Are

Rivera and Kubiak lead with their strengths, because they know what their strengths are. They've identified their values and implemented them on and off the field. They leverage their self-awareness in order to lead their team and care for themselves. By understanding what they need to do in order to handle stress and pressure, they are able to manage and channel them so that their performance does not suffer.

Knowing themselves gives them the endurance to perform well throughout the entire season. In fact, in Rivera's bio on the Panthers' website, he recognizes the influence of his family background as a part of who he is: “Coming from a military background, there's a lot of discipline, a lot of structure. That's how I feel when I coach.”

What About You?

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?

Are you extroverted or introverted? How do you manage stress when under pressure? Do you handle work conflicts differently than conflicts at home? If you are interested in learning more about yourself, check out last Monday's blog when we discuss the latest personality assessment and how you can take it.

They Know Their Game

This may seem like an obvious point. If Rivera and Kubiak are football coaches, then they better know the game. They have to know the game so well, in fact, that they are able to create strategies, teach their players, and make quick judgment calls in the midst of all the action. Both coaches have years of experience as successful players. Most likely, they mastered their game as players and enjoyed leading their teammates, which led them to coach. However, coaching is different than playing. To do this well, they had to pay attention to all the ins and outs of the game; not just what the quarterback is supposed to do, or the basic rules. It takes time to study, observe, and listen. Most importantly it takes having a great coach to become a great coach, just like these head coaches had when they were once players. In fact, I would bet they still have coaches or advisers helping them in their current position.

What about You?

What's your “game” and how well do you know it?

How has it changed in the last 10 years, and how could it change in the next five? What do you need to study to make your game your expertise? When you look around, what do you observe on the field and in the game? Who do you need to listen to? Who can coach you?

They know Their Plan and Work It

Only when these coaches know themselves, the game, and their team are they ready to get to work. It is up to the coaches to communicate their plan, prepare the players, and motivate the team. You see, the players are their resources, and it is the responsibility of the coach to help them get into game-ready shape, building them physically and mentally so they are able to perform in such a way that carries out the plan and strategy the coaches have devised. Yes, it's important for them to be in physical shape to play each game, but what is going to motivate the players to stay engaged for the entire season? The end goal is to win the Superbowl, but why does that really matter? It is up to the coaches to communicate this "why", and to communicate it often, so that the players stay focused and on track.

What about You?

What is the goal of what you want to accomplish and why? What resources are available to and how are you shaping them so they work to your advantage?

They Celebrate

We know what this looks like: balloons, streamers, fireworks, and someone announcing that they are going to Disney World! What would it look like if after the Superbowl these celebrations didn't happen? What if the players just walked off the field, cleaned out their lockers, and went home?

That wouldn't feel very good to the players, coaches, or the fans. They should feel excited, proud, and motivated by their accomplishments! The celebration is important, even when reaching milestones.

On the Denver Bronco's website a few weeks ago I saw that they hosted a Playoffs Rally to celebrate their step toward the Superbowl with their fans. I can only imagine how exciting and motivating that is for the players. Just a little taste of victory encourages you to press forward towards the ultimate victory.

What about You?

Where are the milestones in your plan? How will you celebrate when you reach those milestones in such a way that it pushes you closer to your end goal? What will it look like for you to celebrate your end goal? Plan those celebrations now to keep you motivated and in the game.


Consider taking a personality assessment like Strengths Finder, MBTI, EQi 2.0, or Pearman Personality Integrator. If you are not sure where to start, contact me and we can help you decide which assessment would be best for you.

Identify one way to learn your game. Is there a new book in your field you could read? Is there an expert in your field you could talk to? Even better, could you listen to your followers or clients, gather data about their observations, and learn from them?

Write out your plans for this month. Be sure to include how you will celebrate when you accomplish your goals. Finally, decide what action step you will take this week and tell us that step in the comments below.