INFLUENCING SKILLS: The Desperate Need For More Effective Influencing

Thursday, July 18, 2013

OR "Why Influencing Is A Central, Not Peripheral, Skill Of EVERYBODY’S Work"

By Carolyn Crawford


"Learning how to motivate and enable others to change their actions may be the most important skill you’ll ever acquire.  It’s not merely curiously engaging (and it is); it also sits at the centre of what ails most of us. The lion’s share of problems that really bother us don’t call for additional technology, theory, philosophy, or data (we’re up to our necks in that); instead the problems call of for the ability to change what people do. And when it comes to this particular skill, demand far exceeds supply.” 

This excerpt, so neatly articulated, is taken from the introduction to the book ‘Influencer’ by Joseph Grenny et al. They go on to wonder why, given the incredible importance of influencing, people aren’t entirely consumed with discussing and developing their skills at every backyard barbecue and office party.


Needless to say, the authors had me at ‘hello’.  I’ve been involved in three meetings in the last month alone where clients have said to me “our people are brilliant technicians.  They are excellent analysts and write stunningly good reports that end up in the bottom draw, never to see the light of day.”  And the brief from there is always the same.  “We need our team to see themselves as business advisers to their cross-functional colleagues and senior leaders, not just specialist, back-office operators”.

The reality in this day and age is that no-one’s job is done, no report or proposal complete and no strategy fully devised until it’s been communicated successfully to others such that they engage with it and buy-in. Presenting and influencing are core, not peripheral, functions of everyone’s role. 

As Andzr Huczynski puts it in his book ‘Influencing Within Organisations’ “Competence on the job without the ability to make things happen in the organisation results in wasted effort….Influencing skills are now a necessary part of any job, whether you are in personnel, public relations, accounting or production….”

He goes on to say that coercion and authority, in flatter organizational structures, are no longer a realistic option. “The influence must be subtle and sincere to get decisions made in your favour: upwards with senior management, downwards with those who report to you and laterally with peers, co-workers and those in other organisations whose support you need.  It used to be said that in order to achieve success at the bottom of the corporate ladder you needed to put in time and acquire your professional and technical expertise.  We now know that while such expertise is necessary, it is not in itself sufficient.  Knowing your job is only one aspect of being effective.  The other part is being influential.”

And it’s these final few lines that are the clincher.  “While such expertise is necessary, it is not in itself sufficient”.  In a market where everyone has double degrees and where many are consciously or unconsciously skilled in presenting and influencing, it’s those with the capacity to work their way successfully through the organisation to get recommendations passed and changes implemented that are recognized and moved into positions of management and leadership.  As the old saying goes, “IQ will get you the job, but EQ will get you the promotion”. 


The point is two-fold.  Certainly buy a book, attend a course, listen to a talk, or journal your influencing efforts in order to analyse your successes and failures, because this skill is key to all of our personal and professional success.  But before exploring the ‘how’ of influencing, or looking to influence your team in doing so, start the process of influencing them in ‘why’ it’s such a crucial skill….and make sure that anything they read or attend also does so!  Ensure they understand that influencing is as essential a part of their role as their technical expertise and that success as an individual and team will always be limited to the extent that they perceive themselves as siloed technicians rather than influential business partners to their various stakeholders. 

And don’t forget to set up their KPIs and rewards accordingly.  But that’s a story for another blog!

  • Want to get this learning across to your team?  Why not hire f2f to deliver it?  Contact us to get a quote today.

What our clients say...

Business Development Manager

I now feel less nervous about the concept of presenting generally and more in control of the process

Category Manager
General Mills

Carolyn not only presented useful information but demonstrated what she taught

Category Manager

I had a fantastic experience, thank you Carolyn. I'm now more inspired to face challenges.

Customer Service Officer
First State Super

Very productive and empowering experience

Victorian Auditor General's Office

Very interactive and practical, not only for presenting, but also for reporting structures

Victoria Auditor General's Office

Fantastic, approachable, fun and really helpful

Treasury Corporation Victoria

Excellent. Good mixture of theory and practice. One of the best courses I have ever experienced

Finance Operations Manager

Loved It. I have left with tools I can use tomorrow to improve all my meetings and presentations.

Finance Operations Manager

Loved It. I have left with tools I can use tomorrow to improve all my meetings and presentations.

General Manager

“Until I met Carolyn and listened to her audio course, I thought that to be a good presenter, I needed to morph into a different person. Carolyn helped me realise that being true to my unique style and personality is my greatest asset when presenting. She provides really useful tools and techniques that helped me develop my very own formula for presentation success”

General Manager

It is all about outcomes for F2F and this is what I most appreciated as a participant in the Influencing Skills training - they always had my growth as a leader in mind, and I was kept honest through follow up work to ensure my learning was put into practice.

General Manager Business Operations
IAG (Insurance Australia Group)

Carolyn was excellent. Great anecdotes, great pace, very engaging

General Manager Marketing

Fantastic depth of knowledge and ability to demonstrate technology

HR Director
adidas Australia

Each year we ask F2F back to deliver training at adidas because they are organised, know their stuff and get results. The execution is seamless and their exceptional ability as trainers, unquestionable.

International Market Research Firm

Carolyn was helpful, respectful, empathetic and humorous€ a consummate presenter. Thank you

Logistics Manager
Mainfreight Logistics

Interesting, relevant, motivating, enlightening and fast moving

National Business Manager

Very relevant, logical, useful information. Immediately applicable in the workplace.

Operations Manager
IAG Limited

Not only have I personally seen the skills of my team improve, their feedback suggests unanimously that the programs were well organised, professional, challenging and stimulating. They felt in short they had indeed developed their skills.


Excellent! Very knowledgable and experienced and it shows.

Regulatory analyst
Essential Services Commission

Lots of great tips. Lots of references to other resources. A terrific framework for planning presentations. A very worthwhile use of my time

Regulatory Consultant
Essential Services Commission

I can use everything that we covered in the session immediately in all of my work - highly relevant! It will save me heaps of time and help me focus on a clear message that connects with the reader.

Sales analyst

This training provided the structure and knowledge I was looking for. My role often requires me to persuade people. This provided me with the tools to do so.

Sales Development Manager

A wealth of information and very supportive in delivery

Senior Associate

Apart from presentations, these skills will be useful for ordering my thoughts in arguments for meetings and preparing written advice

Senior Associate

Very engaging and practical.  Planning was always hard and time consuming for me.  The skills learnt will definitely solve that.

Telstra Media/Entertainment

Fantastic – feeling very empowered now. Looking forward to my next presentation.

Telstra Relationship Marketing

The best presentation skills I’ve done and in fact among the best training I’ve done.  I used the planning format straight away and it worked.  Fantastic course.