Leadership Influence – 6 Cornerstones Leaders Use to Build Influence

Command and control are an ineffective, outdated methods for getting people to do what you want. They can often bring negative results and may lead to some form of resistance among your people.

Leaders who are aware of this fact understand they can’t rely on directive tactics. This is where leadership influence comes into play. Ken Blanchard formed a simple yet profound statement that captures the essence of this. The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.

What is Leadership Influence?

Leadership influence simply put is an ability to affect others and change their behavior in a given direction. Effective leaders can use strategies which are designed to impact people’s attitudes, values, and beliefs. You can use different approaches depending on the objectives your people or you set forth.

Influence should not be mistaken for control or power. This is not about manipulating your people to achieve certain goals. It is about becoming aware of what moves your people and gets their commitment. Then, using the knowledge to leverage goals and outcomes with better performance.

What is Influence in Leadership?

We can define influence in leadership as the ability of a leader to affect the thoughts, feelings, or actions of people they lead.

I’ve discovered 6 cornerstones of leadership influence that can help you become a more effective leader and help others do the same. They are:

  • Attitude
  • Value
  • Connection
  • Passion
  • Openness
  • Time


As I progressed in my personal and professional development, I realized that attitude has an enormous impact on life. For me, attitude is more important than facts or circumstances. It even shadows successes and failures as it determines the outcome of either.

Attitude can possibly make or break and individual, team, or company. As John Maxwell stated, attitude starts from what happens to me to what happens in me. Every day we make choices. Those choices can influence people, since they are based on our attitude. That attitude can help your team develop better attitude and thrive with certain approaches.

You must develop great attitude about life, about your people, and most importantly, about yourself. You are in charge of your own attitude.

Add Value

You can influence people by adding value to their lives and careers. That value can be something as simple as a helping hand on a certain task. It can stretch all the way to the career development assistance. Whatever it is that you are trying to do as a leader, always add value. This can apply to an individual, in a team environment, or even on a company level.

If you help other people get what they want first, they will help you get what you want in return. Simple laws of reciprocity work amazingly. I need to caution you here. Don’t try to add value to people just because you are expecting something in return. Do it because you want to empower others to be better leaders themselves and share that influence forward.

Add Value

Build a Connection

If you want to influence others, they must be involved. Involvement can be span from decision making, to team participation, or even company-wide changes. Whatever it is that you do, strive to build connections with your people. Those connections will solidify your leadership influence and further enhance your people.

You should always seek to understand the needs, motivations, and values of others. This doesn’t mean that you should change your own values and beliefs and just fulfill what people are expecting from you. Instead, adjust your approach to different groups of people.

Continue building those connections as they will benefit you, your people, and your organization in the long-term.

How to Lead with Influence?

Lead with influence by earning the respect of your team through your actions and showing qualities that people admire and want to emulate.

Share Your Passion

I always thought passion is understated value in leadership. Did you ever meet someone who is truly passionate about what they do? How did it feel like talking to them? Passion produces energy and ignites others.

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner state “If a leader displays no passion for a cause, why should anyone else care”. If you are passionate about your work, your team, and your company, share that passion with your people. It will help you build leadership influence at an accelerated rate.

When you share your passion, people will be able to feel what you feel. That can result in empowered teams which can use that passion to achieve greater results, together.

Share your passion

Be Open to Influence

One of the fastest ways to increase your influence with others is to demonstrate openness. Influence should be shared. This can be described as a two-way street. You as a leader, have an opportunity to guide others and help them influence you as much as you influence them.

This is not a rule set in stone. This is translatable to your desire to listen to other people’s ideas. Be mindful, invite and consider different points of view coming from your team or individuals.

As leaders, we are always striving to learn and achieve more. By being open to influence, you can utilize your team’s skills and expertise. That can extremely beneficial to the development of the entire company as leadership influence can have a compounding effect.

How Leaders Influence Others?

Leaders influence others in a number of ways, including their behavior, words, actions, body language, as well as inspiration and persuasion.

Today Matters

It’s great to look back and review the learning experience as you progress in your leadership journey. The outcome of that can help you improve as an individual and as a team leader. It is also advisable to look forward and plan. This can benefit the company to a greater extent.

The only challenge with these two approaches is that you’re focusing on everything else but today. That creates a fundamental flaw in the team’s prosperity and engagement.

The only time you have is now. If you don’t live and breathe in the moment, you’re not giving your best. That’s caused by the lack of focus. Influence your people to focus on the moment and then make those moments count.

Today matters

Impact of the Leadership Influence

Leadership is influence. An effective leader moves people into action by prompting their beliefs and desire. That translates into the vision and goals expressed by the leader. If you use influence in a wrong way, it can deliver negative results.

If you, as an effective leader properly channel positive influence, you can bring amazing change to your people.

Once you align individual actions with group efforts, the leadership influence will grow exponentially. You, as an effective leader, can produce intentional and focused effort. This employs positive influence in others and will convert to a true energy towards excellence.

Do you think influence is vital in the leadership journey as one of the fundamental leadership skills? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this article, which means if you make a purchase after clicking on one, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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John Todorovic

John Todorovic

I help aspiring and existing leaders improve their skills through effective coaching.

As a restless knowledge seeker, I love acquiring new knowledge on a daily basis through various types of research techniques. All this aligns with my life's mission: sharing knowledge is a privilege and an obligation.

9 Responses

  1. Thanks John. Absolutely true that leadership is influence as quote by John Maxwell.
    Strongly recommend this to the managers and team leaders in the workplace who has a wrong mindset about leadership influence.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and share your thoughts about our blog post Taher. I’m glad you found it helpful!

    1. You’re welcome Leonard, I’m glad to hear that the Leadership Influence article is helpful. All the best.

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