According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “influence” is the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways. Internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker and author, John C. Maxwell, says “leadership is influence.”

In my years’ of experience as both an author and speaking coach, I’ve learned that by digging deeper into the concept of influence, it is clear how essential it is for business leaders to have the expertise and skills to be effective in drawing out the best from their teams.

In fact, influencing co-workers across your organization is a vital leadership skill at all levels. By understanding your influence style and how to adapt to other styles you can establish critical direction and commitment, and make your ideas and visions come to fruition.

Below, I describe five powerful leader influence style descriptions, and how you can use them to meet your organizational goals and objectives:

1) Rationalizing

With this strategy, you calmly and reasonably push your perspectives, ideas and beliefs using logical, rational reasoning to convince others of your point of view and to support your argument.

  • Brings accurate, relevant facts of a situation into clearer focus
  • Uses analysis to propose a logical solution
  • Moves discussion to a more logical, less emotional plane
  • Takes initiative to suggest solutions to problems

2) Asserting

With an asserting style, you can clearly communicate your views by insisting that you are heard and by being willing to challenge the ideas of others. This means you are prepared to take interpersonal risk to put forth your beliefs even when you know they might be unpopular. Asserting also involves challenging ideas with which you disagree. Also, with this approach, you appreciate debate and don’t mind having your position challenged respectfully.

  • Clearly communicates your position on an issue
  • Specifies needs and requirements
  • Benefits and consequences are clear
  • Moves a resolution forward with speed based on positional authority

3) Negotiating

With this strategy, you are often willing to compromise and negotiate to reach an outcome. This influence style requires the ability to bargain to reach an agreement when something is important to you. Negotiating means you are willing to make compromises to achieve your ultimate goal – which often means making tradeoffs to reach agreement and the willingness to help someone in return for future support.

  • Identifies mutual points of agreement
  • Points out the advantages to others of moving to a solution
  • Offers help or resources to others in order to reach a solution or take action
  • Finds steps and ways to get momentum in a complex situation

4) Inspiring

With an inspiring style, you are willing to pull people toward your point of view via trust. You advocate your position by encouraging others with a sense of shared purpose and exciting possibilities. Also, you use personal stories and metaphors to support your position, with a goal of effectively communicating your vision for the best possible outcome.

  • Appeals to common hopes and aspirations by articulating shared interests
  • Builds solidarity by fostering awareness of higher goals and objectives
  • Leads to increased appreciation of shared interests between opposing parties and lays the groundwork for joint problem solving

5) Bridging

With this method, you can lure, or “bridge” stakeholders toward your point of view. The strategy involves influencing outcomes by building coalitions and communities of interest based on common, shared interest. Bridging involves listening to what others have to say and working to establish a climate of trust. By acknowledging the needs and concerns of others, you show appreciation for their issues and interests.

  • Draws out the intentions, goals and positions of others
  • Shows appreciation for others‘ problems, difficulties and needs
  • Ensures clarity and mutual understanding
  • Builds trust through open communication and acceptance of feelings

The Bottom Line

It’s no secret, as leaders, our ability to influence others is a continually evolving process. Business situations change, the team members with whom we interact with change, and we constantly develop, grow and mature.

Understanding the various ways in which people can be influenced enables us to adapt our approaches and styles for ultimate productivity in the workplace. Fostering relationships, creating new ways of interacting with co-workers, and testing out different influence styles will ultimately bring about enhanced collaboration and positive outcomes for future success.