6 Shifts to Persuasive Leadership

During a leadership program I presented last week there was a great deal of discussion about how to feel empowered to speak up. Participants were feeling frustrated that they had no influence over their team members or colleagues from other departments. Information was not being passed along to them that they needed to complete projects and their emails were going unanswered. They felt like there was little value for their jobs and they were unable to convince people to take action in order to meet a deadline.

Luckily several of the attendees were able to face each other straight on with conversations like this:

“Why aren’t you answering any of my emails that I sent the past few days?” asked one team member to a co-worker in another department.The co-worker responded, “I just wasn’t able to gather the information you needed so I decided to wait before saying anything. If timing was so critical to you why didn’t you just call me?” “I guess I could have phoned but at the very least I would have liked for you to tell me the status on what was or wasn’t happening”, the original team member shared.“I’m sorry that I didn’t update you. Next time I will keep you posted even if I don’t have all the facts ready” exclaimed the co-worker.Many leaders have been in that same situation unable to express their needs. Yet what the class learned was speaking up was critical to persuasive leadership. A persuasive leader communicates with respect.

Here are six shifts to persuasive leadership:

1. Be Clear On Your Message and Direction

To be persuasive it is essential to know your needs and concerns. Often when leaders aren’t heard it is because they are not communicating with clarity. Choose your words carefully and use appropriate non-verbal cues, like facial expressions, body language and tone that can support your important message.

2. Speak With Confidence

Several of the participants were concerned that they lacked confidence when they interacted with team members and colleagues within the organization. When leaders display a lack of confidence in what they need to say they will definitely not be as persuasive as they could be. To show confidence:
  • Use good eye contact and make sure to face whomever you are speaking to.
  • Believe in what you are sharing.
  • Speak loud enough to be heard but not too loud to be seen as arrogant or pushy.
  • Practice what you want to say ahead of time so you are familiar with how you will come across.
  • Persuasive leaders speak with confidence and belief in their message.

    3. Build Meaningful Relationships

    Probably the most critical element in being persuasive is developing trusting relationships with the people on our teams and in our workplaces. When leaders have a personal connection to someone they work alongside they are able to be more influential when challenges arise. So reach out and take an interest in team members and colleagues.

    4. Show Generosity

    If we lead by being supportive and helpful to people in our companies and those we collaborate with we will without doubt be more persuasive. To be a generous leader we need to:
  • Offer our expertise if it is needed.
  • Make time for challenges that our team members may confront.
  • Share as much information as possible.
  • Related: 5 Rituals to Lead with Persistence

    5. See Things From Other People’s Perspective

    Persuasive leaders are open-minded to hearing different opinions and suggestions. They are excellent strategic listeners and are capable of incorporating their team member’s ideas into a final project result. When leaders are inclusive of what their team members are sharing their team members will do the same for them.

    6. Regroup and Pivot If Needed

    Persuasive leaders ultimately know when it is time to stop going down one road and take the next fork. Sometimes no matter how hard we try we cannot be persuasive and that means we just have to let it go. Some of those warning signs are:
  • Co-workers aren’t supportive of our suggestion and present their reasons why.
  • Each day feels like a fight. Stop and pivot.
  • We are taking a non-response too personally.
  • Remember we have the capacity to change direction and identify a better approach. Are you a persuasive leader? What shifts helped you to be more influential?