Four Approaches to Influencing and When to Use Them


There are four key influencing strategies available to us as leaders. Each holds the potential to make a difference. However, their effectiveness is heavily dependent on employing them in the correct circumstances.

Persuasion involves giving people good reasons to follow our lead, showing them how doing so can benefit them, or something or someone they value and the “rightness” of this approach. Persuasion is bet employed when our formal authority to influence behavior is limited or the other party has equal or more power than we have.

Negotiation involves trading something of value we possess with something someone else possess that holds value to us. Negotiation works best when neither party has ultimate authority over the other and the distribution of power is generally equal. Of course, both parties must possess or be able to provide something of value to the other.

Involvement is an invitation and opportunity for others to provide input, influence processes and outcomes, or assume some level of responsibility for something of significance. Involvement is among the most powerful motivators available to leaders. It can be employed with others who have more power, about the same amount, or less power than we possess.

Direction involves giving orders or directives to others. Direction works best when time is too limited or the need for action is too urgent to employ the other three approaches. However, direction only works when we have more power than those to whom the direction is given.




Cohen, W. A. The new are of the leader. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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