Cultural Intelligence, Leadership, Our Blog

A Sure Path to Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

One of the key dimensions of culture is the “relationship-oriented / task-oriented” continuum.  As a product of American culture, and as an element of my personality, I began my career highly task-oriented.  I was focused on first, gaining the credentials and education necessary to reach my goals and second, getting as much information into my students as I could.

When I moved to South Korea, I had to learn a new method of operation.  In order to teach well, I had to build relationships with my students first.  It was in that season that I developed a greater appreciation for the people around me – their strengths, opinions, and values.

Today, I’d like to share a mini-lesson from my weekly Professional Development Essentials class on Developing a Greater Appreciation for Others.

In this mini-lesson, I made a reference to an earlier blog article I wrote last year.  Here is a link to that article.

Does Leadership Have to Be Lonely?

Leadership, Our Blog

A Process for Greater Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

In the past 3 years, my level of influence has increased dramatically.

As a trainer in a professional development program at a university, I am often in a unique position of bringing a group together to create a learning community.  Where most workplace teams remain largely intact for long periods of time, every 4-6 months, I’m bringing a “team” together.

For many years, I had noticed – and accepted – that some students naturally connected with me and a small minority simply didn’t.  Whether it was a matter of personality difference, unmet expectations, or my teaching style that turned them off, I never knew.  It was a small enough minority (1 – 2 people in each class) that I decided not to worry about it.  I accepted that not everyone would “click” with me.

However, when I started studying leadership three years ago, I realized that, as the leader of the class, it was my responsibility to connect with the students, not the other way around.  Since that time, I have been intentional about building relationships and rapport with those students and clients who are not naturally drawn to my personality or teaching style – with dramatic effect.


The Five Levels of Leadership

One way to explain the changes I have experienced is to look at the Five Levels of Leadership as described by John Maxwell in his book Developing the Leader within You 2.0.  These are Position, Permission, Productivity, People Development, and Pinnacle.

Position (Rights) – As the instructor of the course, I have a certain position and authority.  It is reasonable to expect that my students and clients will participate in class activities and will complete assignments on time.  This was the level that I operated at for most of my teaching career.  I had a measure of effectiveness, but it was limited when students weren’t naturally drawn to my personality and teaching style, and this caused me trouble at times.

Permission (Relationships) – Especially now, because I work with adult professionals, I have found that depending upon my position as instructor is often not enough to ensure participants get everything they can out of the training.  I have to make a personal connection with each individual, and they have to trust that I have their best interest in mind.

One of the key things I had to change to truly be at this level of leadership was intentionally connecting with each individual student.  Today, when my co-trainers sometimes find they have little influence with any particular student, I find I have considerable rapport because of those intentional connections.

Production (Results) – This is the level where my competence in my content area must be demonstrated and passed on.  I have long been open about sharing my learning experiences with my students; I feel it helps them see that I understand the struggles they are facing, that I relate to their circumstances.  I also often talk about developing communication skills as an introvert, which many of my students are.

However, about 5 years ago, one of my students accused me of not practicing what I was teaching, which are the communication skills needed in a diverse workplace.  This caused me to reflect and examine whether I was living fully into my content or not.  It set me on a path of personal learning and development that gave me greater credibility in teaching these skills.

Today, I am very intentional about not only living what I teach but also increasing my knowledge, understanding, and skill in my content area.  As I model good communication behaviors, my students are better able to learn.

This is also the level at which my collection of students can become a learning community, a team who supports each other, even when their individual goals are different.   As I build rapport with the individuals (on level 2), I learn about their strengths and weaknesses, which enables me to plan class activities that help individuals shine in their strengths and learn to develop their weaknesses in a safe environment.  I often remind my students that we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and that we can function better together than individually.

People Development (Reproduction) – Because I teach in personal and professional development programs, my number one goal is to get to the point where my influence can help my students become the best versions of themselves, in particular in their communication skills, but also in their people skills.

Without the rapport I build with my students at levels two and three, I would not be able to move to the fourth level of leadership.  When my students and clients start experiencing success in small ways, I am able to move to the fourth level of leadership.  I try to structure my courses to give participants a quick “win” in order to establish myself at this level.  Then, as the course continues, I have greater influence and can coach them into greater successes.

Pinnacle (Respect) – I am not yet fully at this level of leadership, but it is my goal to positively impact an ever-widening circle of influence.  With each client I coach to reach their goal, with each student who becomes a more effective communicator, I move a step closer to this level.



Take It Deeper

I don’t know where you are in your leadership development journey, but I know that there is always more for you to reach for.  Yes, moving to higher levels of leadership will cost you in some ways, but it will pay you back richly for everything you invest.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.


Interpersonal Communication, Our Blog

Four Steps to Greater Influence

By Tasha M. Troy

Recently I was asked what would help someone become more persuasive.  The answer I gave may have seemed simplistic or counter intuitive, but I’ve found it to be essential for myself in having influence without position and persuasion without pressure, particularly in the cross-cultural settings I usually find myself in.

If you are interested in influence in “disposable” relationships, there are a number of manipulative strategies out there; a simple Google search of “how to persuade” brings back over 38 million results!  However, if you are looking for more lasting results, I would like to share four steps that you can take.

Because these steps are unilateral, you have to consider them as investments rather than exchanges.  Once you’ve made enough of an investment into any one individual, it will eventually become an exchange, but if your focus is on the exchange, you will likely become discouraged and frustrated.

If it is an investment, you should expect it to take time to generate a return.  Executed with consistency, these steps will establish you as a “go-to” person, a reliable ally when things are difficult.

1. Listen to Understand

The most powerful tool I have found in building rapport with anyone is simply listening.  Not listening to fix or to respond, but listening to truly understand where another person is coming from.  This one action alone has established me as the one person in my family that is trusted to get through to the other members.

Effective listening at this level does not happen when we are focused on our own position, our own ideas, our own “rightness.”  We have to set that all aside and truly focus in on where the other person is coming from.  Responding and defending our position can come later.

How to Develop Listening Skills (according to John Maxwell):  1. Look at the speaker.  2. Don’t interrupt.  3. Focus on understanding.  4. Determine the need at the moment.  5. Check your emotions.  6. Suspend your judgment.  7. Sum up at major intervals.  8. Ask questions for clarity.  9. Always make listening your priority.  (p 46 – 51)

More on listening:

2. See the Other’s Perspective

Building on the deep listening of step 1, you can begin to “put yourself in the other’s shoes.”  When you focus on the heart of what people are saying rather than on the words used to express those ideas, and you are able to reflect back to that person their own thoughts with your own words, you create a bond that is not easily broken.  When people feel like you “get them,” they begin to open up to you – and your influence – in ways you might not expect.

If you’re not sure where to start with understanding others, I suggest you start with the “five core concerns.”  Dan Shapiro of the Harvard Negotiation Project describes five things that every person you meet is concerned about.  When you are able to understand these concerns, you have begun to understand the person’s perspective.

How to Understand Others: the 5 Core Concerns (according to Dan Shapiro):  1. Appreciation, 2. Autonomy, 3. Affiliation, 4. Status, 5. Role

More on understanding others:

3. Encourage Others to Achieve

If you can learn to understand people – how they think, what inspires them, how they’re likely to act in a given situation – then you can motivate and influence them.  While it might feel unnecessary, it has been my experience – both as a teacher and coach and as a recipient of encouragement – that people often don’t clearly see their own strengths and potential.  Very often, what I see as an obvious strength in an individual is a source of insecurity for that person.

However, when people understand what you see in them, it gives them confidence and the power to set aside the insecurity and move forward in their personal life purpose.  When they achieve some success through your encouragement, it can then establish you as a trusted source of advice, further increasing your influence with them.

How to Become a Believer in People (according to John Maxwell):  1. Believe in them before they succeed.  2. Emphasize their strengths.  3. List their past successes.  4. Instill confidence when they fail.  5. Experience some wins together.  6. Visualize their future success.  7. Expect a new level of living.  (p. 24 – 31)

More on encouraging others:

4. Build Trust

The final step to long-lasting influence is to build trust.  This is the result of consistently walking out the first three steps.

John Maxwell has compared building trust to a deposit account.  Every time we act in ways that demonstrate integrity, we increase our trust account.  Whenever we act in ways that don’t demonstrate integrity, we decrease our trust account.  Some activities create larger deposits or withdrawals, and some can bankrupt your trust reserves.  (p. 357)

As we develop integrity and trustworthiness, it becomes our character.  This is when you’ve become the influential “go-to” person in your circle, regardless of your position.

How to Become a Person of Integrity (according to John Maxwell):  1. Commit yourself to honesty, reliability, and confidentiality.  2. Decide ahead of time that you don’t have a price.  3. Each day, do what you should do before what you want to do.  (p. 65 – 66)

More on building trust:

From “Investment” to “Exchange”

Once you’ve become consistent in these four steps, you will likely find “investment” relationships evolving into “exchange” relationships.  If you find the other person reciprocating, you can consider this an exchange relationship and can feel confident taking the relationship deeper.  Often, these people will become trusted allies in your plans and projects in return.

Take It Deeper

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.  If you would like to go deeper on this topic, I hold free exploratory coaching sessions each week.  You can register online at Troy Communications or email me to schedule an appointment at TMTroy@TroyCommunications.Net

If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive these monthly posts in your inbox, you can subscribe at Troy Communications Blog.


Maxwell, J. 2003.  REAL Leadership: The 101 Collection.

Shapiro, D. The Five Core Concerns of Negotiation.