Influencing – How to use soft skills to get hard results

May 28, 2012 | By

Inspirational Influencing Approach

This is a creative and transformational style. The main aims are to appeal to the emotions of others and to create energy and enthusiasm for change. We all need to be inspired at some time or other and this approach is particularly appropriate when starting major change projects and when you need to capture hearts and minds. The challenge is to both maintain the energy and momentum and to recognize when to bring in the other approaches in order to continue influencing effectively. It is important to recognize that inspiration gets people interested but is never sufficient to bring about long-term change. Managers who use this approach successfully understand when to move onto one of the other approaches.


People who use this approach are highly creative and articulate in presenting themselves. They are confident and eloquent using expressive vocal and body language, and are regarded as visionary and motivational. For example, many famous orators have used this approach to energize and influence their audiences – John Kennedy, Tony Blair, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Barack Obama to name a few. On a less positive note, this approach is not always used for the common good and can be used by dictators. For example, Adolf Hitler was effective in influencing others and used symbols and other tools to build support for his Nazi policies. Other downsides include the fact that it can appear lacking in detail or be too abstract and vague, especially to logical and national people.

Using this approach usually has a future focus and involves creativity and innovation when presenting your ideas. These include for example, the use of metaphor, storytelling, pictures, diagrams and imagery.

When to use

When you want people to commit to and engage with shared goals, vision or values, it is beneficial to adopt this approach. It is an effective way of getting others’ attention, interest and buy in at the start of a new project. What you need to do then is to bring people on board, overcome resistance to change and create lots of energy. Many managers and politicians have discovered that logic is not enough to bring about change, especially if it is complex. In fact, if you are too logical and don’t inspire and connect with others emotions, you may fall at the first hurdle. You really need to get beyond pure logic here and start to involve people’s emotions and imagination.

Again it is not the appropriate approach to use when you are facing time constraints or where there are clearly defined procedures or solutions.

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