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3 Possible Keys to Effective Influence as a Leader

By Chris Hitch — May 18, 2010 2 min read

I’ve had the chance to see some incredibly effective leaders at work. One of the emerging themes that I’m seeing is that these incredibly effective leaders focus on leading through influence. It’s relatively rare that these leaders will simply say “this is what we need to do and this is how we are going to do it.” Instead, these leaders implement some fairly specific behaviors in how they positively exercise their influence with peers, bosses, and their teams. Here’s what I’ve observed-I’m hesitant to call them “rules” (my very small sample size would never stand up to a highly statistical evaluation) but rather, they might be “possibles”


  • They focus on both inside their organization and outside their organization. They ensure that their projects and initiatives are successfully implemented and they frequently talk with people outside their immediate organization to find ways to collaborate, to link their agenda with others, and to learn about small emerging trends that may impact their organizations.
  • Face to Face>Phone>Email: They recognize that effective communication has text, context, tone, and body language. Therefore, they find ways to talk with people face to face outside of their organization, especially with possible contentious topics. If that is not available, they use phone or video con calls (using Skype), and resorting at last resort to email. When I watch leaders during breaks, I notice some engaged in the “corporate prayer stance” with their smartphones. Curiously, those who are engaging in discussion at break, tend to get buy-in to their ideas when topics are discussed in the workshop sessions. Causation? Obviously not. Correlation? Possible. Frequent from a small anecdotal basis? I’m seeing it.
  • Listening: Those who are considered more effective spend more time listening than talking. These more effective leaders find ways to get the opinions out from lots of different perspectives. The antithesis of this would be the FEDEX office meeting commercial. Some of these leaders have shared that they have a fairly disciplined method of listening-they call it “muzzle spasm”. They push their members within their organization to give their opinion by requiring those lower on the corporate hierarchy to share their ideas and perspectives first and requiring the mid and senior level managers to listen, rather than filter the information coming to the senior manager.

Question-what are some key influence skills and behaviors have you seen very effective leaders use?

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