Leading with Influence

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Leading with Influence

Whatever your job, you are expected to join your colleagues in doing important work, which will lead you to influence and be influenced. —Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford, Influence Without Authority

Business Challenge

Today, most leaders must achieve their priorities and objectives collaboratively with and through people over whom they have no direct or positional authority. These non-positional leadership situations require that leaders use the only “authority” available to them: influence. In other words, the complex collaboration environment today increasingly means that leaders must forgo the idea that position and reporting relationships give them the authority to get things done and lead with influence. The Forum Corporation defines “leading with influence” as the ability to generate results collaboratively, in a variety of contexts, without direct or positional authority. Using influence effectively is a fundamental requirement of effective leadership. In fact, companies that “crack the code” of complex collaboration outperform industry peers as evidenced by significantly higher earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) per employee. Forum’s two decades of research in the area of non-positional leadership and influence form the basis of this programme. This research shows that people who effectively lead with influence focus on doing three things very well:

  • They create highly strategic portfolios of influence relationships that are directed towards helping them achieve specific objectives and priorities.
  • They know how to work with others to ensure the effectiveness of their collaboration investments.
  • They understand the importance of relationships and actively seek to build personal relationship capital with the people they need to influence.

Leading with Influence

Leading with Influence enables leaders to apply the tools and practices that will allow them to more effectively achieve their non-positional business priorities and objectives.

Key Content

Leading with Influence contains four modules:

  • Introduction to Leading with Influence features the first round of a fast-paced simulation that provides a shared experience of leading with influence in a fictional organisation (in the first cycle, participants run up against some of the typical barriers to leading with influence); a review of the focus areas and practices (“assets”) of highly effective non-positional leaders; and a self-assessment of participants’ own leading with influence.
  • Strategic Influence Portfolios features a portfolio analysis tool for assessing the relationships and resources necessary to achieve a business priority (the “influence portfolio”); practices for enhancing influence portfolios and identifying brokers who can help create strategic links to people and resources; and a framework for enhancing the influence relationships of the leader’s team.
  • Strong Collaboration Investments features influence practices and tools to overcome three common collaboration gaps that leaders typically fail to manage in non-positional efforts—unclear expectations, confusion about decision making, and unproductive disagreement—and application of these tools to participants’ business priorities.
  • Personal Relationship Capital features influence practices to build relationship capital; a framework and tool for identifying the “currencies” of particular value to the people one wishes to recruit to a nonpositional effort; application of these tools and practices to participants’ business priorities; and the second cycle of the simulation from Day 1 (in which participants achieve enhanced results by applying the leading with influence practices learned during the session).

Throughout the session, participants diagnose and plan ways to accelerate an actual business priority they are currently leading without direct or positional authority, receive feedback on their leading with influence skills and practices, and gather targeted advice from peers. They leave the session with a complete, enhanced Influence Action Plan.

Target Audience

The audience for Leading with Influence is mid-level managers. The programme is not suitable for senior leaders, high potentials, frontline managers, team leaders, or individual contributors. (For frontline managers and team leaders, Forum offers Teams and Beyond; for senior leaders and high potentials, Forum offers Leading Across Boundaries.)


 As a result of participating in Leading with Influence, leaders will be able to:

  • Improve their ability to achieve business priorities using non-positional leadership
  • Create a portfolio of strategic influence relationships
  • Build clarity and accountability and limit unproductive conflict with people on whom they rely to achieve their objectives
  • Sustain and enhance their influence relationships
  • Improve their personal influence

Delivery Options

  • Classroom: 2 days
  • Virtual Classroom: Four 2-hour virtual instructor-led sessions combined with 8 hours of inter-session work

Forum is a global professional services firm that mobilises people to embrace the critical strategies of their organisation and accelerate results. We help senior leaders with urgent strategic agendas equip their organisations to perform, change and grow. Our expertise is built on decades of original research; our business insight keeps companies out ahead of their markets, competitors and customers. Harvard Business Press published Forum’s latest book Strategic Speed in 2010. For more information, visit www.forum.com.  2012 The Forum Corporation