What’s your Influencing Style?

Interpersonal influence is the conscious manoeuvring of your behaviour to get the response you want from others.

This is pretty important for leaders!

The world has changed so much since COVID-19 hit. As a leader, you face more challenges and pressures. Right now, you need to keep focused on inspiring great work from your team. That’s the value you create for others.

Yet, being and staying influential is a little trickier with more remote work. It’s worthwhile taking stock of your influencing style now, and reflecting on how well that’s working. How well will it to serve you as work stays flexible, and flexible becomes the new normal?

Get focused on YOU, and your style, don’t be too distracted by the technology. I know that’s easy to say…. I’ve seen too many leaders give up great practices just because we’re working through the technology. Please don’t fall into that same trap!

Matching your influencing style to your team and your circumstances is the key to making the impact you seek to make.

Find out what your style is by taking my Influencing Styles Quiz.

Circimplex with eit different leadership styles

What are the Influencing Styles?


There are two key dimensions to the Styles: warmth and competence. 

Warmth and competence are the two key criteria by which we judge others. How they go together matters for influencing.

The two dimensions form the basis for eight different influencing styles, and for their effectiveness.

Warmth reflects the striving for union and solidarity. Its primary focus is on affiliation and relationship with others. The two ends of this dimension are warmth and coolness. Coolness reflects greater formality in style and less focus on relationship.

Competence is task-focused. Dominance, or agency, the striving for power and mastery, is one end of the dimension. The other is deference, or submission, which entails deferring to the power of others.

The eight influencing styles are: Inspirer, Collaborator, Consulter, Appealer, Messenger, Legitimiser, Dominator and Persuader.

What’s your style?

Inspirers influence using dominance combined with warmth. They focus on creating a vision of what could be achieved, and use that to inspire others to join them.

Collaborators influence using warmth and dominance. They focus on being friendly and engaging with others, and influence through providing assistance.

Consulters influence using warm deference. They encourage others to provide their input and to make suggestions as well as express any concerns.

Appealers influence using deference and warmth. They focus on ingratiating themselves to others, using their friendship as the basis for their influence.

Messengers influence using warm deference. Their style is to gain support by associating with authority figures and supporters.

Legitimisers influence using cool deference. Legitimisers focus on using the rules and correct procedures to verify why something is the right thing to do.

Dominators influence using cool dominance. They focus on using their authority to compel action from others.

Persuaders influence using dominance and coolness. They appeal to rational logic to influence decisions.


Find out more about your own style

All influencing styles have some degree of legitimacy, depending on the circumstances.

Your preferred style is your default, the one you are most likely to use. This is the one you find easiest, and the one you are most likely to use when you are under pressure.

It will serve you well, some of the time. Yet, it won’t be right for every circumstance. And there are some styles that should be used sparingly. How easily do you flex your influencing style?

Are you getting the cut-through that you need to have with your team?

Influencing starts with caring.

If you want to influence the people around you, you need to understand what motivates them and how they see the world. 

Empathy is fundamental to connecting and relationship building, which increases leadership influence. Despite the primacy of masculine styles of leading that emphasise taking charge and competitiveness, what we know about leadership influence is that you need to start with warmth.

Competence first isn’t influential, it’s coercive.

Warmth comes first because people:

  • Need to feel a sense of belonging – until we have that we don’t connect.
  • Prefer to feel pleasure rather than pain.
  • Like to feel a sense of hope rather than dread about the future.

If you care about others’ needs and interests, you must be able to maintain your connection with them despite your status.

Leaders typically emphasise their competence or expertise with others. This is standard operating system for many organisations. Yet for both men and women leading through competence often backfires: it can alienate rather than influence. A wealth of leadership research showing this to be the case is too often ignored.

This is not a plug for incompetence! It’s about getting the right blend of warmth with competence, relationship with task so that people are prepared to follow your lead.

Getting the right connections with your team, helping them to stay happy and motivated is key to leading through COVID-19 and its consequences for work. And take care of yourself – that way you can take best care of others.

I’ve written a Whitepaper ‘How to be More Influential as a Remote Leader’, to make navigating the current circumstances easier. You are very welcome to download a free copy.


I know how much difference it makes to have someone in your corner, to give you the support you need, to provide guidance, and on occasion to help you question your thinking and approach.

Someone you can confide in, discuss foibles and dislikes, to let off steam, as well as explore your hopes and dreams.

You shouldn’t have to do it alone. If you’d like support for navigating through these complex times and ensuring you are at your most influential, executive coaching might be just what you need.

Find out how I can help relieve some of the pressure and help you increase your impact.

“I first met Karen Morley at a time I was having difficulty with a number of work interactions. For the first time I learnt to see how my beliefs, vulnerabilities, successes impacted how I responded to others within the work environment. Karen lifted me out of the details of the situation and helped me observe myself. I finally appreciated ones work success is not just about the technical skills and delivery but is truly influenced  by connectivity and how each person creates the connections. That “light bulb” moment was transformative and I believe was fundamental to my growth as a leader. It is an insight I try to pass on to others.”
Dr Charmaine Gittleson, Chief Medical OfficerCSL Behring

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