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Influencing Others

We often think that people in a position of power are the only source of influence throughout a business.

I recently listened to Dee Ann Turner, Chief Culture Officer at Chick-fil-A talk about the ability of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, to influence his franchisees.

Dee Ann told a story of how it took ten years of urging, and finally resorting to the point of demanding, that all employees respond to a thank you by saying, “my pleasure,” which is now a trademark of Chick-fil-A service.

So, if a highly respected and loved business leader like Truett Cathy could not easily and quickly influence his business, how are we to influence our businesses?


A common misconception in the work-place is that only the higher executives can exercise influence in their organizations. The reality is that all employees in a position of leadership, regardless of the level, can have an influence on their company.

Strong leaders create an affirming work environment where workers across all positions and levels feel the power to practice persuasion among their peers, leaders, and teams. Any worker who has a better idea or a contribution to make needs to be heard.

How to Convince Staff to Influence

To convince our employees to exercise influence requires two commitments by the business’s leadership. First, is the commitment to the senior leadership to let the staff know they are influencers. This message needs to be conveyed frequently and needs to be reinforced by recognizing influencers and supporting them even when their contributions are not enacted.

Secondly, and more importantly, is many of our staffs do not know how to effectively and appropriately work to influence others. If they take their training from today’s media and current politics, no one will ever be influenced.

How to Influence

The ability to influence is an interpersonal skill that is often overlooked. This skill includes the ability to sway opinions, encourage buy-in, or convince individuals to change their stance on a subject.

This can directly affect individual and company performance, as organizations try to evolve and innovate to meet the needs of their clients best. Fortunately, influence is not an innate skill — it can be developed, perfected, and used on a daily basis.

Here are a few techniques that can help people grow their influence in the workplace, regardless of their position.

  1. Speak naturally. It is easiest to influence people when you speak as if you are speaking to your friends. Speak with no pretenses or unnaturally complicated and unusual words.
  2. Think of your audience. If you know your audience, you will be able to anticipate questions and issues for which you must have a ready answer.
  3. Know your end goal. Many times, your ideas on how to get to a finished goal become complicated and an impediment to the end goal. Be open to different steps to the goals, as long as the goal is accomplished.
  4. Leverage your co-workers. Find others who have similar ideas and work with them to generate support and better solutions.
The Bible

The ability to influence is a gift and a responsibility. It should not be used to negatively and unjustly impact other employees; nor should it be used for self-serving purposes.

1 Timothy 4:12 says.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

And, Titus 2:7 says.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.

Having the ability to influence is a grave responsibility. As a business leader, make sure those you encourage to be influencers know the responsibility they have undertaken.