On leadership, emotional intelligence and influencing skills

By Elisabeth Goodman, 9th March 2018

My colleague, Liz Mercer, and I recently bought the whole set of  Daniel Goleman et al’s twelve”Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence” between us.

The 70+ page booklet on “Influence” caught my attention as we have a course on Effective Influencing and Communication Skills with RiverRhee.  We also have a section on Influence in our Transition to Leadership course.  And how to influence others is also a topic that comes up in our one-to-one personal coaching for individual contributors and managers. I wanted to see what I could learn to pass onto our delegates.

8. Influence in “Building blocks of emotional intelligence”, More than Sound, LLC, 2017

We all need to influence, whether formal leaders or not

As Daniel Goleman reminds us, we all find ourselves in situations where we need to influence others to do something.

In a home situation it could be encouraging a friend or a member of our family to join us on an outing or to stop doing something that annoys us!

In a work situation it could be asking a colleague or a direct report to carry out a piece of work, or get involved in a new initiative.

We are all potential leaders for any given activity, whether we have a formal leadership job title or not!

The relevance of emotional intelligence for influencing strategies

Our influencing strategies will have more long-lasting effect if we achieve buy-in and engagement from those concerned in a positive way, than if we coerce them to do something against their will.

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training, workshops and coaching on influencing, leadership and other topics

In RiverRhee’s course and module on influencing strategies we help delegates to appreciate potential differences in their own and others’ communication and influencing styles and preferences.  They explore how they can use this understanding to adapt their approach so as to build greater rapport and interact more effectively with those that they seek to influence.

We use the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to help build this form of emotional intelligence.  But indeed use of any personality tool could help with this.

Daniel Goleman researched the competencies of about 100 organisations.  He found that emotional intelligence was, on average, twice as important as cognitive ability for jobs at all levels of an organisation.  For top leadership positions, 80-90% or even 100% of the competencies for star performers were based on emotional intelligence.

Leaders with these competencies are the ones who tend to produce a “positive work climate” that is more conducive to employee engagement.  They are the ones who are more likely to achieve long-lasting influencing strategies.

Leadership styles conducive to effective influencing strategies

Goleman lists four leadership styles which will result in greater engagement and commitment from their teams.  They echo some of the ideas we’ve picked up previously on inspirational leaders.

The four styles that are more likely to be conducive to effective influence are:

  1. The “visionary” leader – who shares a clear and compelling log-term vision
  2. The “participative” leader – who involves the team in generating ideas and agreeing the way forward
  3. The “coaching” leader – who takes time and provides resources for their team’s personal and professional development
  4. The “affiliative” leader – who builds positive relationships within the team

Goleman contrasts these styles with purely directive, or even coercive styles.  He also cites “pacesetting” styles which are focused on meeting targets, often accompanied by negative rather than positive feedback.  Leaders with these styles are apparently characterised by having strengths in only three or less of the 12 Emotional and Social Intelligence (EI / SI) competencies.  Whereas leaders with the more positive styles are likely to have strengths in at least six to ten of the EI / SI competencies.

Additional tips for enhanced influencing strategies

Peter Senge has an excellent chapter in the “Influence” booklet entitled “3 Companies, 3 Paths to Influence”.  I picked out the following tips (some of which the author likened to a salesperson’s skills) in my interpretation of  these case studies:

  1. Listen – to really understand the other’s perspective
  2. Go where the energy is – also known as the “open door” approach.  There is no point in trying to push an idea for which there is no energy.  But when the energy is there..
  3. Have a vision and talk about what it will do for the other person
  4. Find where your interests and the other’s interests converge
  5. Use the language of your decision makers
  6. Understand the other person’s values and how you can help them in that context.  (We sometimes also talk about this in terms of the other person’s motivations.)

Being a “warm-demanding” leader

Matthew Taylor’s chapter in the “Influence” booklet describes the concept of “warm-demanding” leadership.  It’s about deeply believing in others, demonstrating that deep belief, and at the same time “holding them to high expectations”.

A “warm-demanding” leader will use their strong emotional intelligence competencies to build strong rapport with the person they are seeking to influence.  The individual will understand that they are valued and believed in.  They will also have the support, encouragement, challenge even that appeals to their own motivation and values to go beyond what they are doing today.

To conclude

There is a rich mine of lessons available to us, whether individual contributors, managers or leaders, about effective influencing strategies that we could use.

The “Influence” booklet in “The Building Blocks of Emotional Intelligence”, whilst not the final word on the topic, has some very useful insights to add to these.

As always, I would love to hear about other thoughts and experiences from readers of this blog.


About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.