One aspect often overlooked in the development of business leaders is the effective use of influence. Self-aware leaders are attuned to how they exercise influence and the effect it has on their direct reports.

When working with leaders, I often ask them to discuss the difference between authority, influence, and leadership. Leaders must assess their own preferences and strategies by analyzing the six types listed below:

  1. Coercive – Influence based on the threat of punishment.
  2. Competence – Influence that comes from having a high level of expertise, experience, and/or credentials.
  3. Reward – Influence that comes with the promise of rewards such as pay, recognition, promotion, prerequisites, celebration, time, etc.
  4. Institutional – This is influence that comes from a leader’s position in the organization.
  5. Interpersonal – This is influence that comes from positive personal connections. A request or directive is honored because of positive feelings toward the leader.
  6. Reason – This influence comes from the belief that a leader is being reasonable and is asking his/her employees to do what is right and beneficial.

As a leader, understand your personal preferences and how different circumstances require certain types of influence. Be careful not to overuse any one type and know which to utilize for each specific situation or person. Take note of what works and recognize common misuses of influence in your business.