Influence is the cornerstone of effective leadership and a simple technique to building influence is to adopt a positive communication style.  Whilst the phrase ‘power has the influence’ held true in traditional hierarchical command and control organisations, this is rapidly changing now with flatter matrix style structures.  Now ‘influence has the power’ and your influence enables your voice to be heard, you and your view more respected and appreciated which helps you work together more effectively.

Five easy steps

Here are five easy steps to building influence by using a positive communication style:

  1. Being open and approachable with your communication style helps build trust. This is because it helps people believe what you are saying by the way you are saying it.
  2. Being clear and consistent with your communication builds peoples’ confidence in you because they understand your message and that it will likely be the same in the future. This predictability implies you are considered and unlikely to constantly change your mind.
  3. Whilst being consistent with your core messages, you also want to keep an open mind through your communication with your colleagues. Being interested in them and taking a personal approach with some flexibility in your approach will create loyalty. This in turn reinforces your influence.
  4. Adopt an assertive but not aggressive communication style. You want to get your message across positively and impactfully without becoming aggressive or patronising, otherwise you risk disenfranchising more people than you influence. Influence is about “selling not telling”.
  5. Be an active listener. Influence doesn’t come from how much you say but through what you say. Active listening enables you to give well thought out answers or ask probing questions on the basis of what you have heard and understood.

It will likely take constant practice to develop this positive communication style, which will assist in building influence. This in turn will help you to become a more effective leader.

Building Influence with ILM72

The specialist leadership psychometric measure, ILM72, identifies leadership as

“influencing, inspiring and directing the performance of people towards the achievement of key organisational goals”.

ILM72 is a measure that tests for effective leadership.  Two of its key features comprise a focus on individual employees and a focus on team working. For both, the ability to influence is critical for success. The third feature, a ‘determination to deliver’, requires a high degree of mental toughness.

Further information on building influence and the ILM72

Paul Lyons is an experienced chief executive, leadership coach and mental toughness professional and you can reach him at

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