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5 Principles of Influential Leadership

A true influential leader taps into the emotions of people and shows up in the best possible way. This ensures that the change they create has a lasting impact.

If you want to become this type of leader, think about these five principles of influential leadership:

Influence is built upon a foundation of trust.

A person who is not trusted has a limited ability to create and use influence.

One thing I always tell my team and clients is to do the right thing for the right reasons. When you don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk, then you build trust.

People will rarely make a leap of faith for someone who hasn’t earned their trust. On the other hand, most people will gladly take a blind step of faith for someone whom they have come to trust.

Studies show that customers will likely buy from trusted people rather than brands.

Influence is built upon making others successful.

Back in my corporate days, this was my go-to strategy for influence. I loved to raise people up, make them super-skilled so they become successful. This helped me out and also raised the trust within my team. As they became more successful and had lots of opportunities, I gained the reputation of a leader who created other leaders.

This principle is also referred to as the law of reciprocity. You’re more likely to influence people by helping them achieve their goals. If you invest in making someone else successful, then they in turn will likely be predisposed to helping you be successful.

Most people also refer to this as service leadership.

If you want to have a preview of how this works, watch the show New Amsterdam. The story centres around a public hospital with a new managing director who has some radical ideas to change things around. He comes in, goes “What can I do to help?” and removes blockers for his team.

Influence is effective if you’re likeable.

People do business with people they like. It’s that simple.

If you want to influence people then you need to be approachable, positive, affable, trustworthy. You have to be a person of character and integrity.

No one wants to work with someone who is standoffish, pessimistic and untrustworthy.

Of course, as human beings, there will be times when we feel empty, grumpy or tired. When you’re in this spot, have a think about how you can get back your likeability. If you need to take some time out, do it.

Self-care for leaders is important. You can’t show up for your people and drive your business if you’re not looking after yourself.

Influence is routed through helping others maintain commitments.

People respect professionals who keep their commitments. In the leadership world, people often judge you by your ability to keep your word and deliver your promises.

The key behind influencing via commitment lies in your ability to have people adopt an initial position that is consistent with a behaviour such that they are willing to agree to requests that are consistent with the prior commitment.

People desire to be perceived as dependable, reliable and successful and will normally go to great lengths not to have their track record or their reputation tarnished.

Gaining strong commitments early on, and then simply holding people to their commitments, ultimately helps them enhance their reputation for delivering on promises made.

This is a two-pronged approach. As a role model, you keep your own commitments. As a leader of people, you enable your teams to keep their word and their commitment.

So, if there’s something you need to sign off on, approve or get out of the way for them, make sure you do that. This way, your people keep their commitments, and you don’t create blockers along the way.

Influence is most often possessed by those with authority.

As the popular saying goes: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The same is true when you wear the people-leader hat. You have a huge responsibility to make sure you lead in a way that is congruent with yourself, the people around you and the direction of the business.

It’s also important to realise there is a reason for this statement: “The highest authority is that which is given and rarely that which is taken.”

Authority is most often given to those who display honesty, competency, expertise and wisdom. With authority comes credibility and with credibility comes influence.

Since those with the most authority will always have the most influence, it’s important to remember to use your influence for the good of your people and your business.

Without the ability to influence others, you will find it hard to achieve traction for your people and business.

People now recognise the importance of influence leadership.

In the past, people could get away with being the “boss” and forcing people to follow top-down directions. In this new era of leadership, people don’t necessarily have to listen or agree with you even if you’re the leader.

If you want to learn how to incorporate these influence principles, then connect with me so we can work together to achieve this goal.


Ally Nitschke is a Leadership Expert, Courageous Conversation Specialist and Speaker. She has been working with leaders and as a Leader for over 15 years. She is on a mission to change the way we communicate at work, to lean into those uncomfortable conversations and lead with courage. Ally delivers Courageous Conversations Programs, Courageous Leadership programs, Coaching, Mentoring and Keynotes. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.


If you are interested in having Ally speak at an upcoming event or would like more information about Ally's Programs please book a call.

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