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The importance of Influence in conversations for a leader - The basics

Seven Conversations Every Leader Needs to Master to Be More Influential

Do you ever wonder if you are as influence as you could be? Many leaders are one-trick ponies when it comes to influence. They use one approach in every situation. Sometimes this works, the same way a broken clock is right twice every day. However, by developing greater flexibility and range, you can be even more effective.

By associating different parts of the body with different influence styles, you can quickly assess whether you have the full toolkit of conversations that a leader needs to influence people in almost every situation.

Left Brain. The left brain is the seat of facts, logic, analysis, information, and data. When you are an authority, or when you know facts that matter to the other person, relying on the left brain can help you convince someone that an idea makes sense. However, most leaders overuse the left brain, especially in Western society. There are limits to facts and logic. For instance, it is hard to win over someone’s heart with a PowerPoint presentation.

Right Brain. The right brain is where we process images, stories, metaphors, and pictures. It is the gateway to the subconscious. By using more stories and images, leaders can reach people at a different level than with the left brain alone.

Gut. The gut, or “hara” as the Japanese call it, is our center. It is where we go when we take a stand, negotiate, assert appropriately, create a contract, or set boundaries. When we influence from the gut, we tell someone what we like and don’t like about their performance, tell them what we expect, and offer incentives to encourage them to comply.

Heart. In situations where we want authentic commitment and not just compliance, it is not enough to tell or assert. We have to be a little bit vulnerable. Here, the conversation shifts to asking for advice and help, listening to the other person’s aspirations and goals to craft a solution, and being flexible about how things get done. The leader doesn’t have to be wishy-washy, especially on the final goal, but is open to new ideas about how he or she can be better, and how to get to the goal. 

Spirit. The spirit is about our shared values and experiences. Here, we appeal to our common ground and the bonds that hold us together. Use this approach to form a team and create a feeling of alignment. 

Vision. Vision is about where we are going. Here, the leader paints a compelling, inspiring picture about where we can go together, and then invites others to jump in and build on the vision. This is the approach to use for a team that is kicking off, or when a push is required to get people to move forward despite challenges. If you combine the right brain, spirit, and vision together, you can make a compelling case that gets a team aligned in a powerful, authentic way.

Legs. The legs are used when conversations start to go poorly, for instance when the other person gets emotional or when your strategy isn’t working. This doesn’t mean that you give up and retreat, but does mean that you take some time to excuse yourself, let both parties rethink their positions, and come back together. The Harvard Negotiation Project calls this “Going to the Balcony.” It prevents a meeting from spiraling downwards.

Would you like to learn more about these approaches, and how to use them to achieve your goals and influence others almost effortlessly? Contact us anytime.

Toby Trumble