How Leaders Can Develop Their Influence Skills

by Eva Szekeres, MA, PCC

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

-John C. Maxwell

As an executive coach, I am asked very often about how to influence others. The ability to persuade, inspire, and motivate individuals and teams can make all the difference in achieving business goals and building successful organizations. But what exactly is influence, and how can leaders hone their skills to become more effective?

At its core, influence is the ability to shape the thinking, attitudes, and behaviors of others towards a desired outcome. It is not about manipulation or coercion, but rather about building trust, credibility, and rapport with others. Leaders who are able to influence effectively understand that it is not just about conveying information, but about making an emotional connection with their audience.

So how can leaders develop their influence skills? Here are some key strategies:

1. Build Self-Awareness

The first step in developing influence is to understand oneself. Leaders need to reflect on their own values, beliefs, and motivations, and to examine how these influence their interactions with others. A coach can facilitate this process through self-assessment tools, such as personality tests or 360-feedback, and by providing a safe space for leaders to explore their strengths and weaknesses.

2. Develop Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential to building influence. Leaders need to be able to articulate their vision and goals clearly, listen actively to others’ perspectives, and adapt their communication style to different audiences. Leaders can refine their communication skills through role-playing exercises, feedback on presentation skills, and through coaching on active listening techniques.

3. Cultivate Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Leaders who are emotionally intelligent are better able to build rapport with others and inspire them to action. Executive coaches can help leaders develop their emotional intelligence by coaching on self-regulation techniques, offering perspective on how others perceive their emotions, and practicing empathetic communication.

4. Build Relationships

Relationships are the foundation of influence. Leaders need to build strong connections with their teams, stakeholders, and customers in order to earn their trust and loyalty. Coaches can help leaders build relationships by coaching on networking skills, facilitating team-building exercises, and providing feedback on relationship-building strategies.

5. Lead by Example

Leaders who lead by example are more likely to inspire others to follow their lead. Coaches can help leaders develop a leadership brand that aligns with their values and vision, and demonstrate that brand consistently through their actions and decision-making.

6. Practice Active Listening

Active listening is a critical skill for building influence. Leaders who listen actively are better able to understand others’ perspectives, identify common ground, and build rapport. Coaches can help leaders develop active listening skills through coaching on paraphrasing, asking open-ended questions, and using body language to signal interest and engagement.

7. Create a Shared Vision

Finally, leaders who are able to create a shared vision are more likely to inspire others to follow them. Coaches can help leaders develop a compelling vision that speaks to their team’s values and aspirations, and communicate that vision effectively through storytelling and visual aids.

In conclusion, influence is a critical component of effective leadership. As executive coaches, our role is to help leaders develop their influence skills by building self-awareness, developing communication skills, cultivating emotional intelligence, building relationships, leading by example, practicing active listening, and creating a shared vision. By doing so, we can help leaders achieve their business goals while fostering a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation.

What is your strength in influencing others?

What would you like to improve?

Elevate your Influence Potential

To learn more about building influence skills and executive coaching, reach out to Eva for a consultation.