How Do You Influence and Inspire People?

All leaders have the same goal.

  • Improve the status quo and help people achieve their potential.

Leaders influence and inspire people to make positive changes.

Start by getting to know your team members—their dreams and goals, as well as their problems and frustrations.

Then use these tactics.

  1. Set the Example

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (The Leadership Challenge) maintain the first function of leadership is to “Model the Way.”

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s restaurant picked up wastepaper in the parking lot to demonstrate the importance of cleanliness.

When you’re upbeat and positive, people follow your lead. When you consistently set high standards, others start to elevate their standards.

What are the top three examples you want to set for your team?

  1. Frame the Issue

A frame around a picture tells people what to focus on. Creating innovative frames influences people to consider new ways of looking at what’s possible.

One of my favorite frames is this statement by former President John F. Kennedy. Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what can you do for the country.  

How can you reframe a current issue that your team is facing?

  1. Help People Reach Their Own Conclusions

Start by presenting the hard-hitting facts and indisputable logic.  Include rational arguments, market research, customer surveys, and case studies. Provide direct experiences. “Take the car for a test drive.

Then ask questions to help people reach their own conclusions.

  • What do these facts mean to you?
  • What actions do you think are necessary?
  • What did you like about the test drive?
  • What do you see as the next step?
  1. Engage Their Hearts

People change their behavior when they feel strongly about a particular goal or initiative. Engage their hearts by making them feel part of something meaningful and special. “Our initiative will end world hunger.” 

Also, show your passion and commitment to your goals and plans. You must be a true believer! Strong convictions get people’s attention.

  1. Move People Along a Continuum

When you’re dealing with closed-minded people, start by moving them from “no interest” to curiosity. Plant seeds. Ask questions and share information that will increase their interest and openness. Next, move to specific examples and more discussion of the facts. Spend time addressing their concerns and finally, ask for a small commitment. Will you try my idea for a week?

This process usually takes multiple discussions before people begin to sees the merits of your idea.

  1. Use Coalitions and Testimonials

Recruit people with credibility to support your position. It’s a more convincing argument to say, “Eighty-five percent of the directors recommend…”

Solicit positive comments from other high-profile people who will speak positively about your idea or proposal. “The president of ABC company said in a recent article…”

Do you utilize other influential people who support your ideas?

  1. Bargain and Reciprocity

If you do A, I’ll do B.” This is a common approach used when negotiating. Sometimes it’s the best way to influence a person to take action.

I helped you with the Smith Project. I need your help with the new product introduction.” Dr. Robert B. Cialdini states that human beings are wired to return favors and pay back debts. We treat others, as they have treated us.

Are you willing to remind people of how you helped them in the past?

  1. Create a Sense of Urgency

"We must act now! This opportunity goes away in 24 hours.” Explain the benefits of taking action and the negative consequences of sitting on your hands.

Once you make your case, ask for the sale. Every good sales representative knows the importance of “asking for the sale.” Will you support my proposal? Will you commit to doing XYZ?

If you get a “no” answer, it only means you have more work to do.


People are unique. Some are influenced by the hard data—facts, statistics, and logical conclusions. Others are moved by their feeling, emotions, and personal experiences.

Choose approaches that have the best chance of convincing people that your idea will improve the status quo and help them in some specific way.

Who will you influence and inspire today?    

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