How To Influence Upwards

With a week in politics which has made our most influential decision makers look like a group of preschoolers. I thought what better than a blog around how to influence and the 5 key styles associated with it. Like with most of my blogs a good level of emotional intelligence is needed in order to embrace the styles I am going to explore later on.

Brexit picture of parliament.

Why is this important?

Influencing upwards is critical in order to effectively input your ideas and drive business strategy. As well as steering direction effectively, influencing upwards can help to alleviate pressure on both sides.

What is influencing upwards?

Effective managers need to maintain and develop good relationships – not only with their teams, but with their managers too. As an individual, you will regularly need to be able to exert influence upwards. This ability to manage upwards may be directed towards your immediate Line Manager, or a wider group of Senior Managers.

How to influence?

There are many methods and models that you might have heard of. However the one I particularly think explains this subject well is the push and pull technique. Many people will have a dominant or prefered style. To be an effective influencer you need to be able to understand when to use the following techniques in good balance.

3d man pushing technique.

The push technique works against the flow of interaction and attempts to “push it” towards one side’s objectives. This is commonly an assertive style and one you might use when you need someone to react quickly.

1. Persuasion

This is about using logic, facts and having a healthy debate. People are more likely to be persuaded if no stone is left unturned and the debate is believable.

  • Proposing Ideas, suggestions, recommendations and questions that present a position.
  • Reasoning facts and reasons for your own position; counter arguments against somebody else’s position.
  • Stating expectations, demands, needs, requirements and standards.

2. Assertion

Being demanding and prescriptive is key for assertion, with a hard bargaining prowess. This is the real hardline approach and one that should be used very carefully.

  • Evaluating positive or negative judgement based on personal or intuitive criteria.
  • Incentives & pressures specify consequences to get action.
3d man pulling technique.

The pull technique uses natural flow and works with it. It is a warm style working with the other party. You would use this style when you would want someone to think for themselves and feel really engaged.

3. Bridging

Bridging is all about gaining the trust and respect required to draw out the relevant information needed. It’s important that everyone is involved in the discussion and all views are scrutinised with detail.

  • Involving and supporting different views, encouraging and acknowledging other people’s problems and concerns.
  • Listening, paraphrasing, summarising, reflecting back feelings and asking for clarification.
  • Disclosing confidential information, admitting mistakes, letting uncertainty show and asking for help.

4. Attracting

This is about inspiring your audience with the content of your pitch. You want to exude confidence and work in collaboration with your colleagues.

  • Visioning image of the result, the ideal outcome, articulating this as the exciting option.
  • Finding common ground and highlighting areas of agreement, the appeal to common values/goals and interests.
3d man pointing as if to divert.

Divert / avoid involves, in its basic form, an initial disagreement with a view to avoiding a breakdown. This could be where both parties agree to disagree, arranging a subsequent meeting or walking away all together.

5. Moving Away

This technique when done well is about putting yourself in a position to have a conversation on another day, doing this well could turn your position around to that of an advantageous one. It’s important to remember that this is about diffusing, re-focusing, deflecting and not about confrontation.

  • Disengaging postponing or rescheduling, re-focusing, staying cool, diffusing with humour and reducing tension while continuing to pursue objectives.
  • Avoiding withdrawal, backing down, dismissing differences, or bureaucratic avoidance.

Remember: Before you try to influence consider which would be best to method – Push or Pull and recognize when it’s best to Divert / Avoid.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

If you only do 5 things…

  • Understand your personal style – strengths and areas that may challenge you.
  • Understand your Line Manager’s style and expectations.
  • Create an environment of mutual respect and transparency of information.
  • Demonstrate a flexible approach to how you influence and use appropriately.
  • Ensure communication lines are open and priorities are clear.

Hope you enjoyed the read, and if you are a politician and key decision maker please take note…….

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Hi! I`m Chris Webb, I live in the South East and started Leaders Retail Consultancy in 2019. Before freelancing, I was a senior retail leader for a number of the UK’s top retailers gaining experience over 23 glorious years. When I am not coaching I enjoy spending time with the family or in the gym.

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Posted in Influence, Leadership.

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