The 10 qualities you need to influence others

What you will learn from reading this article:

  • What sets a great leader apart from a mediocre one
  • The 10 qualities that all great leaders share
  • How to incorporate these qualities into your own leadership style
  • How to embody authenticity and gain the credibility you need to lead by example
  • How to break through the story of impossibility and create real, lasting change in others
  • How to use three types of appeals when influencing others every day

Extraordinary leaders inspire, but just how do they do it? What sets a good leader apart from a mediocre one? An extraordinary leader is a person who has learned how to influence others, including their thoughts, feelings and behaviors; people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Oprah are just a few examples.

Here we’ll cover the 10 essential qualities that all excellent leaders share. We’ll also cover how to influence people and enhance your own ability to influence others no matter what situation you are in.

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1. Extraordinary hunger and drive

Hunger and drive set a leader apart from a follower. Leaders have an insatiable hunger to make something happen; they must do, create and share. This drive is the force that makes them unstoppable. Through their drive, they discover how to influence people and the culture around them.

If you study great leaders in history, you’ll see they get their hunger from a variety of places, but often it comes from something that was missing in their lives. You’ll also find their willingness to confront authority. These are people who confront the status quo, not conform to it.

So how do you get better at influencing others? Anything that intensifies the hunger and drive within you will make you a more powerful leader. The greatest hunger is to serve something greater than yourself, which leads us to the next quality.

2. Exceptional and compelling vision

Small visions have no power to inspire or move people. Instead of influencing others, you’ll be fighting for their attention. If you want to unlock an extraordinary life, you must have big dreams. This is why great leaders always have a vision larger than themselves.

Trying to influence others to support a self-serving goal is a mistake many leaders make. Remember that wielding influence is very powerful and is only to be used to influence change for the greater good. If you use it for selfish purposes, those you are trying to influence will sense it.

To really stand out and influence others, your vision needs to capture and grab the hearts, minds and energies of a significant number of people. It must be the vision of how life can be made better for a group of people, customers, a gender, a race or a country. There must be something that makes people want to bring their resources to the table and contribute their energy to achieve that vision. When you have a specific purpose that benefits those around you, others will be drawn in to help you reach your goal and they in turn will influence others to help as well.

3. Absolute certainty

A leader always has an absolute core belief that they can bring their vision to life. There is true power in belief, and influencing others always starts with conviction. Certainty is what shapes human beings; it’s one of our six human needs. Certainty is also a crucial component in how to influence people.

Uncertainty, doubt and fear are the biggest impediments to influencing others. Truly influential people understand that the fear of not following their vision is greater than any fear associated with moving forward. They know that hunger destroys their fear of failure and that they can use their fear instead of letting it use them.

Think about good leaders you’ve seen in action. Their passion is infectious, right? You’ve never seen an incredible leader say to their team, “I’m not sure we can make this work” or “Maybe I’m not the right person to do this job.” An incredible leader engages those around them by acting with complete certainty. They use their fear to push them even harder and this conviction is their key to influencing others.

4. Passionate and effective communicator

This concept is perhaps the most important thing that Tony teaches: To influence others, you must know what already influences them. That’s how to influence people and make real change. You must understand who your audience is and how to reach that particular audience. Your passion brings the energy; your effectiveness comes from knowing who your audience is and how to speak to them in a way that moves them. Everyone is moved in different ways, so getting this right is crucial.

People who are trying to influence others make the blunder of communicating in the style that works for them. Unless they get lucky and are with a group of people who think just like them, this type of communication will fail. Those who understand how to influence people know that getting to know them better is a crucial step to communication and that influencing them cannot be done without it. Passionate and effective communication is the only way you’ll be able to bring the energy to inspire people to do something beyond the norm – to do something extraordinary.

5. Brilliant strategist

Extraordinary leaders who influence change have figured out a strategy to get from where they are to where they want to be to make their vision real. If they aren’t strategists by nature, they know how to recognize a strategy that’s effective and utilize it for their own agenda.

Leaders who know how to influence others are strategic in their communication style and messaging. They’re strategic in how to get the job done and know how to work with a variety of people. They know they need a strategy for what they’re doing and a strategy for communicating. To influence others, you’ve got to know when to give and when to demand, when to talk and when to deeply listen. As much as developing strategies is about creating an action plan, it’s also about understanding when your team needs to recharge. When you’re creating strategies as a leader, never be afraid to reevaluate what you’re doing.

6. Ability to care, connect and break patterns

The best way to make change and influence others is to break the current pattern. Leaders know this and use the same principle to challenge people, though how they challenge people varies. Some leaders use humor to break patterns. Some do it by listening more and being empathetic. Yet all of them have one thing in common: they truly care about those they are influencing and know how to connect with them. When you care enough to connect with someone and learn their patterns, you gain the ability to influence them. Without this vital knowledge, you could very well be using the wrong type of communication style – and you won’t even know why.

This skill is vital because as a leader, you’re going to come up against someone or some group that’s going to try to stop your progress. You’ll also have to learn how to influence people who have limiting beliefs that are holding them back from making necessary changes.

7. Unreasonable expectations and standards

To influence others and change the world, you must set a standard of unreasonable expectations. The only way something revolutionary happens is when you won’t settle and when you know how to influence others not to settle. We all get what we tolerate. As leaders, we must create a culture where people live bigger lives with higher expectations of what they can do and how they are treated. We must give them the tools to unlock an extraordinary life.

The biggest difference between a manager and a leader who knows how to influence others is that a manager gets people to do things by supervising them. A leader, on the other hand, inspires people to a new standard; even when the leader isn’t there, people still live by these new rules because it’s become their standard, too. Unreasonable expectations change the world. When a leader has higher standards and knows how to influence others to adopt these higher standards as well, innovation and lasting change happens.

8. Courage and faith to act

Having courage means you’re afraid of a task and you do it anyway, and having faith means you’re able to work toward a challenging goal because you believe it serves a greater good. Leaders have the ability to tap into both; they also know how to influence people to embrace the same courage and faith. It’s not that leaders don’t experience fear – they just know how to dance with it instead of letting it ruin their lives.

Think about the difference between fear and faith. They’re both made up ideas. Fear is just undirected imagination while faith is imagination directed consciously for the greater good. Extraordinary leaders understand this concept and know how to use it when influencing others. They have the courage to act and take risks along with the faith that somehow, even when something seems challenging, they’ll have the courage to get back up after they failed. This inspires others to dance with their own fear and creates a domino effect that sparks lasting change.

9. Insanely persistent, yet flexible, in their approach

All great leaders continue to learn with every interaction and every experience. They never turn off that capacity for adapting to new environments or developing new skills. There’s something inside them that hungers to know all they can know to be able to master something that’s related to their vision. It’s an incredible level of persistence they can use to turn setbacks into successes – and to be highly effective in influencing others.

But persistence doesn’t mean being immovable. Leaders are flexible so they can make a change when something isn’t working. Failure won’t seem to stop them; they’ve failed before and always learn from it. Think of it this way: you persist for the outcome, but you flex your approach toward that goal.

One mistake those who want to learn how to influence others make is that while they’ve mastered persistence, they’ve also become rigid. They doggedly pursue the same activities or goals they’ve had from the beginning even when they’re not working. Remember that persistence can work against you unless you pair it with flexibility.

10. Authentic and congruent

A true leader leads by example. When attempting to influence others, they always walk their talk. They never ask others to do what they are not willing to do – or have already done – themselves. They lead from their core values and know that influencing others is meaningless unless it comes from a place of authenticity. You must have authenticity to create credibility and you must stay congruent with your words and actions. Without credibility, no one can lead and no one can be successful when figuring out how to influence others.

All great leaders and those who have mastered how to influence people have stories of possibility instead of impossibility. People who tell the story of impossibility, the story of not being able to achieve something? They’re not influencing others; they’re not leaders. They’ve already given up.

Influencing others with the head, heart and hands

Learning how to influence people is not just for leaders of Fortune 500 companies or large political movements. You can influence others for the greater good in everyday interactions – even if you’re not in a leadership role. 

Here are three proven ways to influence people on a daily basis:

Influence with the head

When you make logical appeals, you are influencing others with the head. This taps into the rational part of their brain. You can influence them by appealing to their organizational beliefs, the benefits of your proposition or by presenting facts from a recognized authority.

Influence with the heart

These types of appeals connect with a person’s emotions. They can promote good feelings or trigger empathy for those who are suffering. Emotional appeals hinge on the values of those you’re trying to influence, as well as their sense of belonging. Influencing with the heart is often effective when fundraising or recruiting for a nonprofit board.

Influence with the hands

Influencing others with the hands involves cooperative appeals centered on collaboration and teamwork. You’re reaching out to others, seeking their input and encouraging everyone within a particular group to work together. Collaborating to achieve a goal that benefits the greater good is a powerful influencer, especially when you’re working toward making massive, lasting change.

How do you know which type of appeal to use when influencing others? It’s based on the situation, your audience and how strong you are in each area. Before you talk to the person or people you hope to influence, determine what you know about them and which tactics will work most effectively. In some cases, combining two or more of these appeals is appropriate. 

Influencing others is about working effectively with people who you have no authority over. When it comes from a place of empathy, compassion and a desire to elevate everyone to a higher level, influence helps make the world a better place.

Leaders change the state of others, and the world around them, by telling an effective story. They say what they mean, care about those they are influencing and know how to tailor their approach to individuals or specific groups. They inspire others with their vision and by putting their plans into action.

Create your own extraordinary breakthrough

Ready to discover how to influence others and embody authenticity to create lasting change? Take Tony Robbins’ Driving Force quiz to begin your transformation today.