5 Effective Strategies for Influencing Up as a Leader

July 10, 2023

5 Effective Strategies for Influencing Up as a Leader

Influence is a critical skill for leaders, especially when it comes to engaging and persuading individuals with higher positional power. Whether you're a CEO seeking board approval, a mid-level manager addressing conflicting priorities with the executive team, or a frontline leader presenting your ideas to your direct manager, the ability to influence up is essential for success. 

In this blog, we will explore five powerful strategies from a leadership perspective to help you master the art of influencing up and driving positive change within your organization.

Pick the team’s agenda instead of yours. 

When attempting to influence others, it's easy to focus solely on the benefits from our own perspective. However, a more effective approach involves understanding the other person's point of view. Put yourself in their shoes and consider the advantages your idea offers them. Additionally, identify the risks or potential negative consequences they might face if they don't embrace your proposal. 

By shifting your perspective, you can tailor your message to address their needs and concerns, enhancing the chances of successful influence.

Adapt to how they communicate.

Different individuals have distinct communication preferences. To effectively influence up, adapt your communication style to match theirs. For instance:

Know their influences.

Pay attention to who successfully influences the person you're targeting. Analyze the strategies employed by individuals who have earned their respect and support. Consider enrolling key stakeholders further up the chain to bolster your case. 

Additionally, leverage reliable sources of information that your target audience values. For example, reference authoritative articles or books on leadership that present your case effectively. Aligning your approach with their trusted influencers increases the likelihood of gaining their attention and support.

Outline the risk of inaction.

While this strategy may seem obvious, it's often underutilized. Put yourself in their shoes once again and outline the risks associated with not implementing your proposal. Assess the potential immediate and long-term consequences of inaction. Tailor your message to address their concerns directly. For instance, use data and research to highlight risks to a data-driven decision-maker, or emphasize the competitive disadvantage of not adopting the idea. Adapt your approach to resonate with their preferred communication style and priorities.

Worry not about what you cannot control.

Influence is not always guaranteed, despite employing effective strategies. In such instances, it's crucial to let go of the outcome and concentrate on what you can control—your own behavior and approach.

 Reflect on your own actions, preparation, and responses. Even if you don't achieve the desired outcome, view it as a learning opportunity. By evaluating your performance, you can refine your influencing skills and take solace in your growth as a leader.

Influencing up is a vital skill for leaders who aspire to drive positive change and achieve organizational success. By dropping your agenda, adapting your communication style, understanding influencers, outlining the risks of inaction, and focusing on what you can control, you can enhance your ability to influence those in higher positions. 

Remember, effective influence is not about political maneuvering or sucking up, but rather about presenting your ideas in a manner that aligns with their needs and priorities. Cultivate these strategies, and watch your influence as a leader grow, creating a positive impact on both yourself and your organization.