What Is Influence To You?

The word influence is thrown around often in leadership. We know that great leaders are influencers. As ministry leaders, we are hungry to learn how to influence as we lead others in accomplishing mission, to influence with integrity, to influence in a way that leaves a legacy.

But what does influence actually mean? And – don’t go googling it just yet!! Stop and think a minute. What is influence to you? I was asked to do the same in a recent conversation. It took me a minute to come up with what I think.

Here is what I came up with as my definition –

Influence is the ability to move people to take action, see things or gain insight in a way they might not have done on their own.

What comes to mind as you reflect on what influence means?

Think back to leader who had significant influence in your own development. Our picture of influence is frequently shaped by those leaders we admire. The ones in our life who have influenced well. These experiences are powerful at shaping what is important in our own leadership influence. More powerful than any dictionary definition of influence.

What are three traits you would use to describe their leadership impact in your life?

As I reflect on my own leadership journey, I would organize what I have experienced as influence into two “buckets” of influencing tools. There are a variety of ways that leaders will use as they move people to take action, see things or gain insight.

It’s not that one type of strategy is better than another – it’s knowing when to use direct influencing and when to use indirect influencing strategies. Integrating these two approaches introduces a coach approach into the influencing conversation. The most influential leaders are coaching leaders.

For example, if you invest in creating an environment of relational influence, then when time is of the essence and you need to tell others what to do — it’s like pushing the easy button.

The starting point is to step back and define what influence means to you.

  1. What is influence to you?
  2. What is important about influence in your role?
  3. How do you influence with authenticity and integrity?

For a few more tips on how to be a coaching leader in these influencing conversations, download my Ultimate Leader Guide HERE.


Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center for Coaching Excellence.