Power and influence are two different entities deployed by an effective leader to achieve shared or common goals. Power is the ability to produce effects on others, while influence is the change in a target agent’s attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors as a result of influence tactics. An example of power is employing punishments onto subordinates; however, does punishment always lead to influence? Not necessarily. Influence is much stronger than “power” because it changes the hearts and minds of subordinates, allowing them to internalize certain attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.
There are nine influence tactics:
• Rational Persuasion
• Inspirational Appeal
• Upward Appeal
• Coalition Tactic
• Pressure Tactic
• Legitimizing Tactics
“Inspiration in itself is influential”
Effective leaders will be able to employ many different tactics to accomplish their goals.
Rational persuasion usually comes from someone who is an expert in their field and their influence is based on the use of logic and evidence. An example of someone who utilized rational persuasion is a doctor. They are an expert in their field, and when they tell us to lose weight or quit smoking, they do it from a rational, expert position. When utilizing rational persuasion ask your subordinates questions so you are better able to rationalize and explain your argument to them. You want to inform them, provide knowledge, and explain the process.
Inspirational appeal is appeal designed to evoke enthusiasm or emotion. When someone arouses your enthusiasm for an issue by touching your values or what you want to become or obtain, they are using inspirational appeal. An example of inspirational appeal is when someone tells you that if you continue to work hard and put in effort, you will be promoted. That person is tapping into your aspirations to get a better job with more pay. You want to instill passion in what they want to accomplish. Inspiration in itself is influential.
Upward appeal is when the leader seeks to persuade others because the leader’s request is approved by higher management, therefore gaining subordinates compliance. This form of influence isn’t effective on everyone, but other times it’s nice to know upper management will have your back. Some subordinates may do a better job if they feel like upper management believes in the work you do.
Exchange is influencing subordinates through an exchange of favors. You have to be strategic in what you are exchanging, and must be okay with the exchange because, in the end, you want or need something to be done.
Consultation is when the subordinate participates in the planning or design. The subordinate has a “stake” in the outcome. Consultation usually relies on coercion or reward. You may appear to be using other’s consultation to help yourself; however, you need a buy-in from your team. For your subordinates to become stakeholders in your goals, it requires engagement from your team and allowing them participation in the process.
Coalition tactic is when a leader seeks the aid or support of others to influence subordinates. You need to get others to support you and be on your team because you have a mission to run and want the best people doing it. You need to sell yourself and the team to others so they want to come to you to accomplish your goals.
Ingratiation is when a leader attempts to get the subordinate in a good mood before making a request. You’re “buttering them up” in order for them to do your request. This influence tactic is usually utilized when you ask someone to do something they don’t want to.
Pressure tactic is the use of threats, expressed or implied, to influence a subordinate. Threats can also be seen as demands or intimidation to convince others to comply with a request. This can also be seen in peer pressure when the leader forces the team to influence another person. Pressure can look similar to coercive power when used negatively.
Legitimizing tactic is when a leader makes requests or demands based upon their authority or title. This comes from having a position where power is associated with status or rank. For example, when the vice president at a company gives orders to someone below them and they have to follow that order. This is a simple form of influence because it is dependent on authority and title.
Influence alone is a more powerful tool than power alone. Similar to utilizing the different bases of power, you cannot simply rely on one influence tactic for every situation. Although influence alone is stronger than power, together and when used appropriately, your application of power and influence will help you and your subordinates achieve your goals.
By Alicia Iwakiri, adapted from the LAFDLA presentation of Chris Hubmer, Deputy Chief at Camp Pendleton Fire Dept