Now more than ever, a leaders’ ability to influence their team is business critical...

With teams dispersed and working virtually, attention has begun to turn in recent months from ensuring that business continues to be transacted as seamlessly as possible, to recognizing that connection, engagement and influence – some of those soft skills that were often dismissed as ‘touchy feely’ in the past – are actually business critical, not just in terms of wellbeing but in terms of maintaining team cohesion and productivity.

The ability to influence is now a can’t-do-without skill for leaders at all organizational levels.

Susan Luke Evans is the author of “Return on Influence – the New Currency for Leaders” (released November 2020).  Her extensive experience over the years has led her to the conclusion that there are 5 levels of influence.  The lowest is merely to gain compliance… and the highest is the ‘Visionary’: someone with the ability to influence others to influence others.

“Over the years the importance of influencing skills have often been overlooked” she suggests. “We’ve talked a lot about ‘communication’, but not enough about influence, what it is and how you can expand it.”

“In order to bring about a lasting and sustainable difference to team cohesion and business results” she says “leaders MUST be able to elevate their message in order to see a genuine return and measurable benefits.”

For her, understanding these 5 levels, being able to identify them within your business, and knowing how to work with them mark the difference between leaders who are going through the motions of getting surface level things done –  and those who build lasting and sustainable commitment within their teams.

Jim Burgoon, entrepreneur and founder of The Everyday Leader makes the crucial point that true influence doesn’t stand alone: it’s based on genuine trust, service and humility.

“People must feel safe with you, or they won’t trust you. No one wants to feel like they’re being taken advantage of to accomplish a mission – if you are serving them and helping them to meet their own agenda, you’ll be better  able to influence them with integrity. Humility and vulnerability show our shared humanity -they’re also part of the equation.”

“Above all” he adds “ is accomplishment. Role modelling. If you’ve walked the walk, people are more likely to buy into you talking the talk”

Business Growth Strategist and Mindset Coach Melissa Froehlich also points to some of the key factors which underpin influence:

“It starts with knowing and really understanding your audience” she explains “and genuinely connecting with them.”

“When a leader is skilled at influencing, it directly correlates with their credibility and the effectiveness of their mission.  My own experience has shown that my audience is influenced by my authenticity –  and it’s enabled me to build incredible trust.”

Through these three different perspectives, core themes emerge: true influence is about far more than merely gaining compliance.

It’s not just about getting people to do things. It’s about forging genuine connection at a deeper level, through trust, engagement and authenticity.


  • Annabelle Beckwith

    Leadership consultant, trainer and coach, author. Lateral thinker. Keen observer of the human condition.

    Annabelle's career spans over 20 years working as a leader in business herself and, for nearly 2 decades, as a trainer, coach, consultant and advisor to leaders at all organisational levels within major companies all over the world, as well as entrepreneurs and business owners. Taking an oblique, lateral and deeply psychological view of life and business, Annabelle shares patterns and principles that have played out...and continue to play out... in businesses large and small, wherever they are.