7 Strategies to Lead Through Influence

Jo had just finished meeting with the Executive Leadership Team on that quarter’s highest profile project. Action items were reviewed. Schedules were adjusted. Jo provided additional context to the team and asked for two specific reports to be delivered by the end of the day for review. Nope, Jo isn’t the CEO. Jo is the Executive Assistant, and knows how to lead through influence.

Leading through influence means using personal qualities, expertise, and relationships to guide and inspire others, even in the absence of formal authority or hierarchical power. Instead of relying on position or title, individuals who lead through influence focus on building trust, credibility, and relationships to bring about positive change and accomplish goals. And that’s just what Jo did to get the job done.

Leading through influence is an important skill for someone in a Force Multiplier role. While Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staff may not have formal authority over other team members, they are often called upon to guide conversations, hold others accountable to actions items, ask for deliverables, and drive decisions on behalf of their Principal. Sure, they could throw their leader’s name around to put the pressure on, but that’s certainly not a leadership best practice.

So, how do you actually lead through influence, you ask? Here are 7 strategies for leading through influence as a Force Multiplier.

1. Build Strong Relationships

Take the time to connect with your Principal, colleagues, other leaders, investors, vendors, and team members. Don’t wait until you need something to reach out—it can feel disingenuous and manipulative. Spend time getting to know people in your organization, as well as external stakeholders. Listen, ask questions, learn what motivates them and is important to them. Understand their roles and how you can support them in achieving their goals, personally and professionally. Invest time into developing your network, so when the time comes to lead through influence, you’ve already laid the ground-work and you’re ready.

2. Build Your Business Acumen

Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staff are generalists, but don’t confuse being a generalist with a lack of expertise. Force Multipliers simply need to know a lot about a lot of different areas of the business. Yes, being able to “do the job” as a Chief of Staff or EA is imperative—that’s the basic expectation. But, in order to lead through influence, you must also intimately understand the vision, goals, and context of the business, particularly through the lens of your Principal’s agenda, and/or your divisions’ priorities and current initiatives.

Building your business acumen is the path forward. Business acumen is the ability and skills to understand and interpret business situations, make informed decisions, and take effective actions that lead to favorable outcomes. Business acumen encompasses financial literacy, market awareness, strategic thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, leadership, and yes, influence.

Force Multipliers are also the epitome of supportive team members. That’s a great first step. However, we can take this a step further and turn being a supportive resource into being an influential leader. Offer your assistance, guidance, and mentorship to others. Act as a resource for team members, sharing your expertise and providing support when needed. When you possess this level of knowledge or skills, people are more likely to seek your input and guidance. Sharing your knowledge and offering valuable insights will ultimately help you gain credibility, build trust, and influence others.

3. Step Up

When you decide to lead through influence, you will probably have to start getting out of your comfort zone. Trust me, it’s worth it! More than just anticipating needs, leading through influence means to identify gaps in the operations, communication, or productivity at your company, and then stepping up to offer solutions or suggestions to make improvements or address the problems. Taking initiative shows your commitment and can inspire others to follow your lead and shows that you are invested in the overall success of the team, not just your own success.

4. Cultivate Strong Communication Skills

Express your ideas clearly and persuasively. Tailor your communication style to suit different audiences, and present information in a compelling manner. Use storytelling techniques, data, and examples to illustrate your points and influence others’ perspectives. Communicate effectively: Develop strong communication skills to articulate your ideas, goals, and vision clearly and persuasively. Adapt your communication style to resonate with different audiences, and listen actively to understand others’ perspectives. Effective communication helps build trust and influence.

5. Provide Context and Collaborate

Force Multipliers are in a unique position that allows them to see the bigger picture, understand the goals and objectives across multiple divisions, and see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Executive Support Professionals are often called upon to know this information, and to be able to provide relevant context to different team members, as needed. This is a unique leadership ask. Where Force Multipliers must be able to bring teams together, provide the necessary information, ask powerful questions, and facilitate a conversation that helps drive clarity and action. This also includes ensuring you are amplifying the vision and messaging from your Principal. Often, this is the most important part of the context.

By sharing the vision and promoting a shared purpose, you can influence others to work together towards common goals. Through your efforts, you can inspire others to rally around this shared vision, contribute, and make an impact. Cultivating your skills as a facilitative leader is influence.

6. Study Behavior and Adjust your Leadership Style

Self-awareness is the key to success in business and life. Taking a behavior assessment (or several) helps you understand yourself, so that you can communicate better, be more effective, and ultimately be a better strategic business partner and influential leader. Once you are clear on your behavior style, start learning more about the behavior, personality, and communication styles of other key stakeholders. Different individuals will respond to different leadership styles.

To be an influential leader, you may need to adapt your approach to suit the needs and preferences of the people you work with. By being flexible and adaptable, you can better connect with others and influence them effectively. Leadership is not one-size-fits-all and you need to be willing to adjust your approach accordingly. Adapting to different situations demonstrates your versatility and increases your influence.

7. Lead by Example

Self-leadership precedes leadership. You have to show up and model the behavior that you wish to see others embody. Influential leadership starts by leading by example. Build relationships, develop your business acumen, support others, take initiative, cultivate strong communication skills, provide context, facilitate conversations, study behavior, listen, and ask great questions. Your actions can inspire and influence others to follow suit.

Remember, leading through influence is about building relationships, demonstrating competence, and positively impacting those around you. Leadership is influence. It’s about getting other people to take an action without having to rely on a title or formal position of power, but rather about inspiring and persuading them to willingly adopt new ideas, behaviors, or actions. By leveraging your skills, expertise, and interpersonal abilities, you can effectively lead others from an Executive Assistant or Chief of Staff role, or any position!

Like this post?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


Recent Posts


We won’t flood your inbox. Opt out anytime.