J K Rowling voted most inspiring female businesswoman

On the eve of International Women’s Day, children’s author J K Rowling has been voted the most inspirational businesswoman in a survey* of UK freelancers by Crunch Accounting.Earning 23 per cent of all votes, Rowling beat a high profile field of business personalities, including online shopping entrepreneurs and creators of notonthehighstreet.com Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish (voted by 16 per cent) and The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick (16 per cent).

Other female leaders who also received recognition were Martha Lane Fox CBE, member of the House of Lords and former UK Digital Champion who co-founded lastminute.com and (14 per cent) and football managing director and TV personality Karen Brady (12 per cent).

The research was conducted to celebrate International Women’s Day (8th March) which is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, with 400 events scheduled across the United Kingdom.

Laura Hughes, Accountancy Training Manager at Crunch Accounting, said: ”We conducted the research to understand which high profile women are setting the best example and inspiring the freelance business community – a group that now makes up 14.5 per cent of the country’s total workforce, with 4.37 million self-employed currently working in the UK.

“The results have been really interesting. Women from across the digital and creative industries received far more votes than the corporate heavyweights, like Santander CEO Ana Patricia Botín. Above all however, the results remind us of the diverse and varied range of female business personalities that the UK has to offer, a fact well worth celebrating on Saturday for International Women’s Day.”

The survey was run by Crunch Accounting, which combines cloud software with expert accountants to provide a complete business accountancy service for freelancers and micro businesses, for a flat monthly fee. See www.crunch.co.uk for more details.

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* The survey by Crunch Accounting polled 160 male and female freelance business owners located across the UK. Full results and ranking of most inspiring female businesswoman are below:

·      JK Rowling, author - 23%
·      Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish, founders of notonthehighstreet.com - 16%
·      Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop - 16%
·      Martha Lane Fox, founder of lastminute.com – 14%
·      Karen Brady,vice-chairman of West Ham United - 12%
·      Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet - 7%
·      Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive of The Good Energy Group - 4%
·      Victoria Beckham, global fashion entrepreneur - 3%
·      Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet - 3%
·      Ana Patricia Botín, CEO, Santander UK - 2%
·      Christine Hodgson, executive chairman, capgemini - 1%
·      Liv Garfield, CEO Severn Trent - 1%

About Crunch Accounting
Crunch Accounting, named the UK’s fastest growing accountancy firm in 2013, combines a team of expert in-house accountants available on the phone with easy-to-use online accounting software. Designed specifically for freelancers, contractors and small businesses, Crunch Accounting is more than just accounting – it’s a business tool.

The accountant and software service is available for a fixed monthly fee of £64.50. For this, users can invoice, add expenses, have their annual accounts and returns prepared and see the exact health of their businesses instantly with a fun, innovative and simple-to-use website with banking grade security.
Crunch Accounting is co-founded by online entrepreneur Darren Fell and Head of Accountancy Steve Crouch, with investment from Bebo’s co-founder Paul Birch. Former Skype Chairman Michael van Swaaij is the Crunch Chairman.

Confidence and self-belief Leadership

The ability to inspire confidence and self-belief in others is a key leadership trait. Self-confident employees who believe they can attain goals, are more productive, loyal and perform better. The start point is to display confidence in yourself and your leadership – and the employees as well. Confidence comes from displaying belief and trust in the team. According to Mike Oqnek, one of the tasks of a good leader is to instil confidence – that sense of being more than equal to the task – in your team. However, it’s not as easy as you might think. You can’t tell someone to be more confident. You can’t educate them on what confidence is, and then try to convince them to be more confident.

Real leadership means taking the steps necessary to build confidence in your employees.

Confidence is a step by step process built on a solid foundation of stability and the achievement of a succession of small goals. Each time the team achieves – and are recognised for it, they are developing self-belief, self-esteem and building their confidence. Each time they become confident in their success at a particular level, the leaders role is to give them slightly more complex tasks and greater responsibility. Thus the team becomes empowered to contribute more towards the overall success of the business.

Keep increasing the size and scope of the goals as they gain a greater sense of confidence and self-belief. Eventually, you will start to see leadership traits emerge in the employees themselves – that is the highest aim of leadership, and a sure sign of your success. Success breeds more success and thus the leader starts building a team of future leaders.

When the leader believes in the employees, and expresses that belief, it is much easier for the team to believe in themselves.

Positive reinforcement also contributes to the development of self-confidence. Be generous with rewards and recognition to those who consistently show they are growing and developing. You’ll be rewarded in turn with some of the best leadership experiences of your life – and business success, too.

So how do you build this sense of balanced self-confidence, founded on a firm appreciation of reality? The bad news is that there’s no quick fix, or five-minute solution.

The good news is that building self-confidence is readily achievable, just as long as you have the focus and determination to carry things through. And what’s even better is that the things you’ll do to build self-confidence will also build success – after all, your confidence will come from real, solid achievement.

Leadership Passion

Leadership Passion

Leaders who are passionate about what they do are like magnets, attracting others who want to do business with them or want to work for them. Passionate leaders possess that rarest of qualities – charisma. You can’t fake it – you either have it or you don’t. You can, however, develop charisma and passion – it can take time, but if the environment is right, it is something you can begin to forge. And once you have it (as long as you don’t let your ego get in the way) people will follow you to the ends of the earth.

The word “passion” originates from Latin meaning “to suffer.” Therefore it should come as no surprise that those who are passionate in their pursuits are often willing to make personal and professional sacrifices in order to reach their objectives that the unimpassioned simply won’t make. Channeled properly, this is a huge advantage. Virtually every successful leader I have come across is truly passionate about every aspect of the role they fulfill and the business they are in. According to The Huffington Post there is little doubt that a leader’s passion represents a positive contagion that can boost morale, attract talent, and influence people – what’s not to like?

Passion is what shapes your purpose in life and in business. When the idea for a venture or a cause starts taking shape, purpose is what ultimately helps define it. But most importantly, that same shared purpose is what brings together your people (both internal employees and external partners and customers) who believe in your cause and in what you are trying to build. That shared passion, that shared belief, is what motivates people, gives them the sense of belonging and excites them about accomplishing the same mission and being a part of the journey.


The emotional connection that people share is what’s so crucial — it is about surrounding yourself with people (employees, partners, clients, and vendors) who believe what you believe. The emotional connection, where people can relate to you, creates authenticity. It breeds trust and sparks innovation.

Passionate leaders often communicate well, winning an audience over with a compelling message that, in turn, produces energy.

A leader who has passion is driven forward from the energy he/she produces. When it comes to leading yourself and others, passion and energy are essential ingredients to success.


Donald Trump said, “Without passion, you don’t have energy; without energy, you have nothing.” Leaders who have passion also bring energy into what they do.

Just as there is a very fine line between brilliance and insanity, there also exists a fine line between passion and ego driven negative traits. Healthy passion for your business actually brings focus and clarity of thought, which serve to accelerate growth and create sustainable success. However, being emotionally over-invested in one’s business can lead to irrational decision making, prideful or ego-driven actions, the use of flawed business logic, and poor execution. These are the regrettable and completely avoidable precursors to unnecessary loss and/or failure.

Passionate professionals thinking clearly will often seek independent advice from an executive coach or business coach to continually check and refine their thinking. Emotionally over-invested professionals will either avoid counsel or surround themselves with legions of yes-men. Effective and passionate leadership teams have a balance of left-brain and right-brain thinkers from a variety of backgrounds in order to draw from the broadest possible array of experiences when formulating their plans.

Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela s Life

Leadership Lessons from Nelson Mandela’s life – By Brian Bacon, Chairman and Founder of Oxford Leadership Academy

Two big leadership lessons can be drawn from observation of Nelson Mandela’s life and time in history. The first lesson is that it takes more than a single heroic leader at the top to change the trajectory of an institution, or a nation. The second lesson is that in leadership, character is always more important than strategy.

Lesson #1: It takes more than a single heroic leader at the top to change the trajectory of an institution, or a nation.

Even with one of the world’s most courageous and charismatic leaders at the helm, it takes more than a single generation to move the majority of a population from poverty to middle class. To transform a nation (or any large enterprise for that matter), inspiring leaders, who accept absolute personal responsibility for transforming themselves, their work, their community and the Nation are needed at every level, not only at the top.  Nearly 20 years after the end of the brutal and racist apartheid regime, South Africa’s citizens are still searching for a new leadership model to carry forward Nelson Mandela’s ideals amid a host of mounting problems, including rampant government corruption, an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent, poor public education, and high rates of poverty and HIV and AIDS.  These challenges won’t be solved by lofty top-down leadership, however inspiring. They can only be met by leaders with fierce resolve to tackle corruption and develop leaders who will make things happen at EVERY level of every institution in the nation.

Although he is revered today (and rightly so) as the most important leader of the anti-apartheid struggle, I doubt Mandela will be remembered in history as a great transformer, simply because he failed to deliver social and economic rights to the majority of the people. Many studies show that black South Africans are actually worse off economically now than they were under apartheid. The rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer.  For all of his great successes, what Nelson Mandela failed to do was to develop leaders around him who were as big morally, or even bigger than he was.  His legacy will be tainted by the culture of greed and corruption rampant within the ANC at most levels today. Mandela can’t be blamed directly for that culture, but he can be criticised for not speaking out as senior ANC figures enriched themselves at the expense of the poorest in South Africa.

The fact is, when he stepped down from office and eventually left politics, the institutions Nelson Mandela lead became less. They’ve

struggled ever since and still haven’t found their formula. Great leaders develop great leaders, so that when they leave, the institution (or the nation) becomes more, not less. Like Mandela, other great, charismatic leaders of the last century such as Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King can inspire us to towering heights personally, but they do not provide us with a useful template for institutional transformation.  When their time was up and they moved on, their institutions became less, not more. The most important legacy of a great leader is to leave behind even greater leaders who continue on and take the institution to the next level.

Lesson #2 In leadership, character is more important than strategy

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf once defined leadership as a potent combination of strategy and character but, he said, if you ever have to be without one, be without the strategy. This could certainly be applied to Nelson Mandela. His towering character often made up for some rather dodgy (to say the least) strategic choices. His open support, for example, of Libya’s ruthless and eccentric autocrat Muammar Qaddafi and his indecisiveness in dealing with his ex-wife Winnie Mandela, one of the most controversial people of our time -  eventually charged with eighteen crimes including murder, kidnapping, and torture. As a consequence of Mandela’s flirtatious affair with Soviet Communism, (which he considered to be a suitable model for South Africa’s future) South Africa came perilously close to instigating a state-run economy, including the nationalisation of major industries.

Such dubious strategies and decisions could easily have led to Mandela’s political undoing and fall from grace, but his strength of character as a leader more than made up for occasional lapses of judgement.  Where did Mandela develop his remarkable resolve and character as a leader? These qualities emerged early during his school-years. His anti-apartheid convictions resulted in expulsions and continuous strife with school authorities. Despite consistent misdemeanours he made it into law school, passed the bar and went on to establish the most successful black law firm in South Africa – an absolutely amazing feat in those days. Eventually, he would serve 26 years hard labour. In his later years in prison– he was finally released in 1990 – he was offered his freedom if he would renounce his commitment to armed struggle. He refused.

Nelson Mandela’s qualities and impact as a leader are indisputable. He was courageous and resolute. He was the pattern breaker. His

character and visionary actions, stamina and resilience were profound. Yet, his most enduring legacy will not be the things he did, but what he didn’t do. He refused to succumb to the seductive pull of revenge and the politics of hatred that infected large parts of the anti-apartheid movement. As a consequence, South Africa was saved from a grizzly civil war that would have torn the nation apart. That will be his greatest legacy.

Yet, individual qualities, skills and exemplary character in a leader, however exceptional, are never enough to transform a nation, nor any large institution.

Nelson Mandela played his role magnificently and we can learn great lessons from his life, but now it’s time for a new generation of leaders to emerge, leaders willing and motived to empower and develop other leaders to confront corruption and transform institutions for good.  Great leaders create great leaders. This is not only true for South Africa, its true everywhere.

Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela.

Brian Bacon is Chairman and Founder of the Oxford Leadership Academy, a UK based international leadership consultancy with 200,000 alumni, 215 people and offices throughout Europe, USA, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. He is an advisor to several Heads of State and leadership consultant to the Boards and top management of numerous multinational corporations including Telefonica, BASF, Metro AG, Akzo Nobel, Sandvik, Unilever, BP, HSBC, Ericsson, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, GE, ING, NXP Semiconductors and Volvo . For more information visit http://www.oxfordleadership.com Twitter @OXFORDLeader

How can I become a better leader? Part 9 – Collaborative Leadership

What is collaborative leadership?


Collaborative leadership is really defined by a process, rather than by what leaders do. It has much in common with both servant leadership and transformational leadership. (It starts, according to David Chrislip and Carl Larson, in Collaborative Leadership, from the premise that “…if you bring the appropriate people together in constructive ways with good information, they will create authentic visions and strategies for addressing the shared concerns of the organization or community.”

Collaborative leadership can be employed in almost any situation, and indeed is practiced in some businesses with great success, but is seen more often in community coalitions and initiatives, in community-based health and human service organizations, or in alternative education. People often find it particularly useful in situations where “no one is in charge,” where there are issues or problems so complex that no one person or entity has either the information or the power to change them. (This does’t mean that no one has responsibility, but rather that sharing responsibility for the issue is necessary in order to arrive at a successful resolution of it.)

While it can be practiced in a number of ways, good collaborative leadership is almost always characterized by some specific traits. Among the most important:

  • Collaborative problem-solving and decision-making. It’s not the leader’s job to decide what to do and then tell the group. Rather, the group considers the problem, decides what to do, and counts on the leader to help them focus their effort.
  • Open process. The leader – or some other interested party, like Putnam’s mayor – doesn’t just start with his goals in mind and steer the group in that direction. Collaborative leadership means that the process of decision-making is truly collaborative, and has no set end-point when it begins. The end result is worked out among all the participants: that’s collaboration.

Leadership of the process, rather than the group. The purpose of collaborative leadership is to help the collaborative process work, rather than to lead the people involved toward something – to a particular decision, for instance, or in a particular direction.

When is collaborative leadership appropriate?

Collaborative leadership is not always the best solution for a particular group. In the military, for instance, particularly in a combat situation, collaborative leadership would be fatal: while the group carefully worked out its plans, it would be overrun. There are numerous other situations – often related to how quickly decisions have to be made and how decisively people have to act – where collaborative leadership wouldn’t work well. Time is clearly a factor, as is the ability of a group to gather and digest information, its level of experience and judgment (you wouldn’t put pre-schoolers in charge of their own safety, for instance), its freedom to act, etc.

So how do you know when to employ collaborative leadership? Here are some possibilities to consider:

  • When the timing is right. Good timing is often necessary for collaborative leadership to succeed. When circumstances conspire to bring a situation to a crisis point, that can break down barriers and convince otherwise-reluctant stakeholders that they need to collaborate. By the same token, when things are going well, there may be the time, the funding, and the common will to take on a new collaborative effort.
  • When problems are serious and complex, and both affect and require attention from a number of individuals and groups. This is the kind of situation, referred to earlier, when no one is in charge. It’s impossible for any one individual or group to solve the problem by tackling it alone. At the same time, the seriousness and complexity of the problem mean that it’s in the self-interest of the individuals and groups involved to put turf issues and the like aside, and to collaborate on dealing with it.
  • When there are a number of diverse stakeholders, or stakeholders with varied interests. In order for these stakeholders to work together, collaborative leadership is needed to build trust – both among stakeholders and in the process – and to make sure that everyone’s agenda is heard and honestly considered.
  • When other attempts at solutions haven’t worked. Individual organizations or officials may have tried to deal with an issue and failed, or a coalition may have faltered because of internal conflict and/or inability to generate effective action.
  • When an issue affects a whole organization or a whole community. If everyone’s affected, everyone needs a voice. Collaborative leadership can provide the opportunity for all to be heard and involved.

When inclusiveness and empowerment are goals of the process from the beginning. A coalition that has set out, for instance, to broaden political participation throughout the community would do well to operate with collaborative leadership and a collaborative process. Such a structure would give it credibility among those it’s trying to reach, and would also provide that target population with the opportunity to develop its own voice, and to increase its ability to participate fully.

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How can I become a better leader? Part 10 – Solution orientated

Solution orientated
All too often, managers appear to be reluctant (or afraid) to tackle difficult situations. They avoid the issue, hoping that it will right itself over a period of time. The inevitable then happens – a crisis and they are forced into a position whereby they have to use crisis management rather than solution-based management.

Crisis management simply waits for something to occur and then often frantically and inconsistently the manager attempts to resolve the most obvious issue. The problem is that they are only then scratching the surface and not dealing with the ‘real’ underlying issues. Crisis managers do not look at the “big picture,” searching for the very important “why’s” of an issue. They look at the small picture – the single occurrence – and do not address how to make sure that this and other issues do not occur again. Crisis managers are not proactive but by their very nature they become reactive – fire fighting. Most often crisis managers do not even realize that it is they who are the root cause of the problem.

Only when they step back and take a holistic leadership view can they see all the issues and the role they have played and need to play to find the right permanent solutions. Of all the management styles, the most effective technique is the ability to make informed and consistent decisions by adopting a solutions-oriented approach. A solution is the process of solving or resolving a problem or challenge, or overcoming an obstacle. Solution-oriented managers always attempt to consider all ramifications of either taking or not taking a particular piece of action.

Some of the questions a solution- oriented manager might ask include:

• What are the financial considerations of taking action?
• What are the financial considerations of NOT taking action
• What are the potential ramifications- – short-term, intermediate-term and long-term of taking this course of action?
• What are the potential ramifications of NOT taking action?
• What obstacle or challenge needs to be resolved?
• What are the pros and cons of proceeding this way?
• Does this course of action realistically address this issue?
• Is this course of action the best way of approaching this issue?
• What else might be considered, and why?
• How does this course of action relate to the “mission” of the organization?
• What would be the “action plan?”
• What would be the time line?
• Is this issue a time- sensitive one?
• How high a priority is this action?
• If this is done, does it mean that another situation or challenge will now appear?
• What process do we need to follow and where do we begin?
• What is the probable success rate?
• What is the next step if this approach is ineffective, or does not achieve the goals set?
• Who do we need to ask for help? This list is not exhaustive, but it’s a very useful check to make sure all bases are covered and as a leader you don’t leap into crisis management in an attempt to rush to what you think might be the right solution. When someone takes actions based on an intelligent and thorough analysis of a situation, and is a proactive leader instead of a reactive one, there is generally a far better chance at success! That is probably why there are far more reactive leaders than proactive ones!

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How can I become a better leader? Part 8 – People Developer

Motivating is that leadership skill of developing other people to do a better job. Within every business, there are recognized criteria for people development.

What are those criteria for developing others (let’s call them “People Developers”):

• Recognition

• Growth

These four factors are inter-related and overlap. One factor may be more important to one individual than another and it is your job, as a leader, to ascertain what others require in their development.

Let’s look at these motivators as they relate to the development of your team and your leadership.


Satisfaction – a sense of personal accomplishment that a challenge has been met and the job has been well done. For most people, achievement is a reward in itself. It is the basic thing which spurs people to go and do a better job.

How do you, as a leader, use achievement as a developer? If someone knows that they have achieved something, they must first know what is expected of them – a set goal – if they are to realize later they have achieved it or exceeded it. Thus, if you intend to use achievement as a developer, you must be sure you clearly outline goals for your people to strive for.


Closely related to achievement, it is meaningless unless earned. Recognition is an expression of approval, or appreciation, by others whose opinion and judgment is valued. Within the business world, you have many ways to show recognition.

Recognition and praise will show many unknown facets, like a diamond.

Recognition polishes it and allows latent talent to shine out.


People are more strongly motivated if they feel they have helped in the planning of their objectives, rather than being told. They should feel as part of not only their own work, but of the total group and Company.

Remember, inactivity is often caused by feelings of inadequacy. Participation can overcome this feeling of inadequacy.


The person who feels as if they are at a dead end, probably is. They must feel that there are the opportunities available for them to grow and that they are growing in experience, knowledge, skill and understanding. If we can help them start growing, the person will, in fact, exert more effort. Even the rewarding of others can achieve motivation, because it shows that opportunity is available for growth.

Remember, confidence is built by achievement levels set along the way to one’s goals.

Leadership development begins with you. Leadership development starts at the top.  A true leader learns all facets of the business they are involved in.

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How can I become a better leader? Part 7 – Leadership Influence

There can be no leadership without influence, because influencing is how leaders lead. In their classic book on leadership, Leaders:  Strategies for Taking Charge, Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus echo this point: “There is a profound difference between management and leadership,” they wrote, “and both are important. ‘To manage’ means ‘to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct.’ ‘Leading’ is ‘influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.’” They add that “an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence.”


Managers also use influence, of course, because only a fraction of managerial work can actually be accomplished through control and the use of authority. The aim of both managers and leaders is to accomplish an organization’s goals. Managers do it through

plans, organization, processes, task assignments, measurements, and so on, but they must also direct people and manage their performance, and you can’t manage people solely through command-and-control methods. People are human beings, not machines, mechanical parts, or assembly lines. They respond best when they are treated like human beings, they work best when they have a voice in how the work is done, and they remain loyal and engaged when they feel respected, trusted, well informed, and cared for. That’s why the best managers also lead, and they lead through the social and emotional approaches to influencing, not just the rational approaches.


Leaders lead by mobilizing people around a compelling vision of the future, by inspiring them to follow in the leader’s footsteps. They show people what’s possible and motivate them to make those possibilities real. They energize and focus people in ways that fulfill their dreams, give them a sense of purpose, and leave them with a profound sense of accomplishment when the work is done. Leaders lead by modeling ways of thinking or acting and by encouraging new ways of looking at situations, and by so doing they give people the words and the courage to make those new ways their own. The best leaders are teachers, mentors, and role models–and they accomplish the vast majority of their work through influence, not authority.

In many cases, leaders and managers are one in the same. The division vice president who leads a team of people to accomplish what they might not have thought possible is also a manager. The manager who oversees a team’s task performance but also looks after the team members’ career planning and coaches them on developing their skills is also a leader. The art of management and leadership is to know when to act as a manager and when to act as a leader, when to use authority and when to use influence, when to ask and when to tell, when to take over and when to let go. In every case, it is crucial for leaders and managers to understand the range of influence techniques they can use, know when and how to use them, build their power bases so that they have the capacity to be influential, and sharpen their skills so that they can influence people effectively.


What is Influence?

To be an effective leader, it is necessary to influence others to support and implement decisions that the leader and group members perceive are necessary. Without influence, leadership does not occur. In other words, leadership is the act of influencing outcomes.

Influence can be with people, things or events. Strength and effectiveness of influence can vary. The process the leader uses to influence someone can take a variety of forms.

Influence is defined as “a force one person (the agent) exerts on someone else (the target) to induce a change in the target, including changes in behaviors, opinions, attitudes, goals, needs and values” and “the ability to affect the behavior of others in a particular direction.” To influence, a leader uses strategies or tactics, actual behaviors designed to change another person’s attitudes, beliefs, values or actions.

How Does An Influence Tactic Work?

Leaders tend to use different tactics and to have somewhat different objectives depending on the direction of the influence. For instance, this typically can be seen when a leader attempts to influence someone above them or below them.

An important reason for choosing a specific influence tactic may depend on what the leader wishes to accomplish. For example, a manager in an organization may want to influence employees to:

  • Modify their plans and schedules
  • Approve and support manager plans and proposals
  • Accept and carry out new assignments
  • Provide relevant and timely information
  • Discontinue inappropriate behavior



In a community or volunteer setting, a leader may wish to influence participants to:


  • Increase their commitment toward a goal
  • Influence the outcome of a decision
  • Increase pressure to get something done
  • Gain support for a specific project



Types of Influence Tactics

The Power Use Model predicts someone’s choice of influence tactics in terms of its “softness” versus “hardness.” This dimension is defined in terms of how much freedom a tactic leaves the person to decide either to yield or to resist the influence attempt:

Hard tactics leave individuals less freedom than soft tactics. Hard tactics include “exchange,” “legitimating,” “pressure,” “assertiveness,” “upward appeal” and “coalitions.” These behaviors are perceived as more forceful and push the person to comply. Soft tactics, on the other hand, are influence behaviors which are considered thoughtful and constructive. Soft tactics include “personal appeal,” “consultation,” “inspirational appeal,” “ingratiation” and “rational persuasion.”

Soft tactics allow the person to be influenced with more latitude in deciding whether or not to accept the influence than do hard tactics. Hard influence tactics can place more strain on the relationship between the influencing person and the target, especially when the action was unwarranted.

Influence tactics can also be divided into “push” and “pull” tactics. Both categories can get results. Push tactics tend to get short-term results, while pull tactics garner support rather than compliance.


Examples of the Effective Use of Influence

Here are three scenarios in which influence could be used. For each situation, ask the following questions:

  • What influence tactic would be the most effective?
  • What influence tactic would be the least effective?
  • What is the objective of the influence?



Situation #1: You have heard several accounts from reliable sources that one of your top performers in your department has been sexually harassing a coworker. You would hate to lose this employee, but you strongly disapprove of people who abuse their power. You want the behavior stopped before the company is slapped with a lawsuit.

Rational persuasion and pressure are the most effective in this particular situation. This is an example where a soft or pull tactic would be ineffective. This situation does not allow for the individual to have a choice. Action is needed now. The objective of the influence is to stop the behavior.

Situation #2: You are concerned that the other managers in your somewhat conservative company have not completely grasped the need to be more competitive. Even though the firm’s profit and loss statement and other statistics have been slipping steadily, most of them do not yet perceive a need for change. You want to encourage them to implement a Total Quality program.

The objective in this scenario is to influence the employees to see the need for increased motivation for improved economic gain. Personal and inspirational appeals could provide the greatest effect as these create long-term behavior change. Hard or push tactics would be the least effective, and could lead to a further decline in motivation.

Situation #3: You are the chairperson of the Administrative Council for your local community organization. Looking at the end of year financial report, you realize that the budget must be increased by $5,000 to meet an increase in insurance premiums. You must address the entire membership to influence increased monetary giving.

Increased financial giving is the objective of this influence. Rational persuasion and inspirational appeals could serve to influence the membership of the benefits of the increased monetary needs. Hard or push tactics would be the least effective. It could anger the members into not providing any financial help.


People who aim for a positive group outcome need to diagnose the situation and determine if a hard/push tactic or a soft/pull tactic would be appropriate. Mastering the art of influence is a key leadership component. A successful leader will understand what influence tactic works best for the situation and the person or group. If the desired results aren’t obtained, perhaps the wrong tactic is being used. Effective leadership and influence has available a wide array of tactics. Too often potential leaders use the same tactic over and over, getting few results because the tactic was applied inappropriately. If ideas are to be accepted toward a given change, leaders must learn the art of influence.

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How to Become the Best Introverted Leader

The stereotype of a great leader is usually one who is outgoing, fearless, confident, and in control of the situation. Rightly so – people want to follow a strong example they can support and defend with pride.

Unfortunately, introverted workers trying to become a leader have a difficult road ahead. But never fear – being an outstanding introverted leader takes time and practice, but they can be among the most inspirational and respected leaders in the game.

Don’t Try to Be an Extrovert

Many would-be leaders who have a quiet, introverted leaning tell themselves they need to become a loud, confident leader who is everywhere at once in order to be a great leader. This is totally and irrevocably false.

The extroverted and loud-mouthed stereotypes of being a leader have swamped much of the extrovert community with self-doubt, because being loud and present doesn’t come naturally to introverts. What introverted people tend to forget is that some of the most respected and admired leaders are the ones who rarely speak at all.

That being said, if an introvert (or anyone, for that matter) wants to reach their full potential, the opposite direction would be to try and become someone else. Introverts should instead realize the gifts and leanings they have (foresight, calm collection, even an ominous silence to think things through are a few examples) and celebrate their unique strengths. Not all leaders are extroverts.

Trying to become a boisterous, domineering presence among people is destined to fail if that’s not where your strengths are. Instead, focus on how to make your current strengths better – capitalizing on your abilities to think, to comprehend, and even to speak without ever uttering a word.

Developing Skills in Every Area

Every great leader has both introverted and extroverted traits and qualities. The best leaders are subject matter experts in their field instead of jack-of-all-trades. Leaders in the healthcare industry might find themselves under pressure to know a a lot about everything – technology, finances, interpersonal interaction. Instead, they should focus on smaller areas of focus by learning through their own research and online classes from schools like Sanford Brown. Again – the point isn’t to be an expert at every subject; great leaders are well-versed in their niche areas.

The Confidence to Speak Up When Necessary 

Great leaders have both introvert and extrovert qualities. Extroverts may have a hard time staying silent and having alone time, and introverts might have a hard time speaking up and being heard when the time is right. If you have introverted leanings and you want to become a great leader, you may have to practice being loud and speaking over others (which might sounds terrifying and completely rude). Having the confidence to speak up is huge.

Introverted leaders don’t “happen” – they’re made in a powerful, detailed process. Just because speaking to large groups of people and being loud enough for everyone to hear doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean you’re not qualified to become a respected and effective leader.

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