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Telling would be much quicker and easier but it just doesn’t work anymore!

Very few people, from Gen Y to the Baby Boomers, like to simply be told what to do. They expect to know WHY they are being asked to do a particular task or to be included in making the decision.

Managers may not always like this, but they accept it as the reality in our current workplaces.

In two recent Australian studies, where thousands of managers were asked to identify the leadership skill they most wanted to develop one skill rose well ahead of any others. It is the ability to influence, that ability to speak so that the other person wants to do what you want them to do!

In the fast-paced and competitive business environment, you work in you must achieve more, in less time and with fewer resources. Your ability to be able to influence others to help you to achieve these business results is paramount.


Man convincing people in a team meeting


Ream Norman, Senior Psychologist at the Centre for Leadership Advantage, gives three tips for becoming more influential.


TIP #1: Their Perception of You Matters


Do you know how the other person sees you? Their view of you will either hinder or help your ability to influence them.

If their perception of you is not particularly positive, you need to look to change this perception.

This starts when you accept that their perception is valid, even if you don’t agree with it! You will certainly not change their view by telling them they have the wrong idea about you!

You have the chance to change it only by changing your behaviour and showing them the ‘new you’. For example, if they don’t trust you because you haven’t always followed through, you have a much greater chance of influencing them if you first follow through impeccably on several occasions.

Of course, perceptions don’t change ‘overnight’, but they don’t change at all if you don’t behave differently and cause the person to ‘think again about you’.


TIP #2: Use Your Emotional Intelligence


When you break it down, influencing is your ability to affect the way the other person thinks and behaves.

A high level of EQ is the enabler here, being able to ‘walk in their shoes’, keeping your own emotions in check (especially when you feel frustrated or stressed), asking open questions and listening to the responses with an open mind. When you behave in this way you enable the person to be open to your ‘requests’ or ‘needs’.


TIP #3: Commitment, Not Merely Compliance


There is a big difference between compliance (‘I’ll do it because I have to’) and commitment (‘I want to do this and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.’)

For important work, it is highly likely that you want commitment from the person. With commitment they will complete the work to a very high standard in the shortest time possible, they are much more likely to ‘go the extra mile’.

Two of the best ways to get commitment from a person are to sell the benefits of the work, the benefits to them, and then to involve them in planning how the work will be completed. We all like our own ideas so when the person’s ideas are included, at least to some extent, their buy-in will be much stronger. One of the key roles of a manager is to get work done, with and through other people. In modern workplaces then influencing is a critical skill.



Most managers find influencing some people easy and influencing others very difficult, if not impossible. The tendency with a person who is difficult to influence is to blame that person – ‘they’re so unreasonable’, ‘they are unreceptive’, ‘they’ve got so many issues.’

The reality is that the successful leaders, the ones we admire, understand that they must take responsibility for finding and practising ways to influence these difficult people too. Taking responsibility and applying these three tips will help you to be one of the managers whose people work with purpose and passion to achieve outstanding results. It will be worth your effort!

Tell me in the comments below, which of these tips do you find most useful?