Building Influence, Communication Skills, Leadership

A Leader’s Guide to Communicating with Influence

Table of Contents


  1. There’s a shift in business dynamics. Quality communication skills training and the ability to influence have become crucial in matrix organizations.
  2. The key aspects of effective communication in leadership are; enhanced collaboration, navigating challenges and change, and fostering employee engagement.
  3. Skills you need for communicating with influence include; active listening, clarity, empathy, adaptability, confidence, storytelling, negotiation, non-verbal communication, feedback, conflict resolution, and strategic communication.
  4. Developing these skills involves practical steps, such as practicing active listening in team meetings, ensuring clarity in task delegation, cultivating empathy through open-ended questions, mastering storytelling techniques, and adapting communication styles based on the audience.



The way we do business has changed dramatically, and many could argue that  leadership development that builds the ability to communicate with influence has never been so important.

Businesses are moving away from traditional hierarchies in favour of matrix structures and while these structures are not new, they are becoming increasingly common meaning quality communication skills training and the ability to influence stakeholders and colleagues have become vital cogs in the success machine.

Research from the  Harvard Business Review  (HBR) shows that only 9% of employees consistently demonstrated self-awareness. This is a key ingredient for success in matrix organisations. The research also showed that only 20% of leaders displayed empathy, and 22% had well-developed influence skills.

All of these skills are essential when it comes to communicating effectively and delivering outcomes in a matrix style organisation, yet they are still sadly lacking in many companies.   Developing your teams communication skills  for the new ways of working will help you connect and collaborate better – increasing your success over the course of your career.

Let’s explore why impactful communication is so important for matrix leadership, and what it means to excel in leadership communication.

What is communicating with influence?

Communicating with influence refers to the ability to effectively convey messages in a way that persuades, motivates, and inspires others to take action, make decisions, or adopt a particular viewpoint. Influential communication goes beyond just transmitting information; it involves the skillful use of language, tone, body language, and emotional intelligence to impact and guide the thoughts and behaviors of others.

Importance of effective communication in leadership

Effective communication is the backbone of successful leadership. In order to lead, one must be able to effectively convey their vision, goals, and expectations to their team. Furthermore, leaders must also be skilled listeners, for communication is a two-way street. By actively listening to their team members, leaders can foster an environment of trust and understanding.

Clear and concise communication also ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards a shared objective. In essence, effective communication is the key to unlocking the full potential of a team and driving them towards success.

Staff need to feel engaged and have a sense of belonging. Gallup’s  Global State of the Workplace  report highlighted that a dismal 14% of employees in Australia feel engaged. Tie that in with a  LinkedIn  report which found 48% of staff see transparent communication as a key to feeling they belong, and you can see why a strong communication strategy is one of the most important leadership qualities you could have.

Needless to say, if you don’t have effective communication in your  leadership development toolkit, you could be heading for disaster. So, whether it’s through face-to-face conversations, written memos, or virtual meetings, leaders must prioritize communication in order to lead with impact and inspire their team members to reach new heights.

Below are some key reasons it’s so important leaders communicate with influence:

  1. Clarity of Vision and Goals: In a leadership role, it is imperative to articulate a clear vision and set of goals. Effective communication ensures that these objectives are not only conveyed comprehensively but also understood by all stakeholders. Clarity fosters alignment, allowing every team member to work towards a unified purpose.
  2. Building Trust and Credibility: Trust is the currency of leadership. Through transparent and consistent communication, leaders establish credibility. When team members perceive their leaders as honest, open, and reliable communicators, trust flourishes. This trust, in turn, forms the foundation for a resilient and cohesive team.
  3. Enhanced Collaboration: A leader’s ability to facilitate collaboration hinges on effective communication. When communication is open, inclusive, and encourages the exchange of ideas, team members are more likely to collaborate seamlessly. This collaborative synergy harnesses diverse strengths and perspectives, driving innovation and problem-solving.
  4. Navigating Challenges and Change: Invariably, organizations face challenges and undergo periods of change. Effective communication during these times is crucial. Leaders must convey a sense of direction, reassure stakeholders, and provide guidance. Transparent communication about challenges and change fosters an environment where adaptability and resilience thrive.
  5. Employee Engagement and Motivation: Leaders who communicate effectively inspire and motivate their teams. By conveying a compelling vision, recognizing individual contributions, and providing constructive feedback, leaders can foster a sense of purpose and commitment among team members. Engaged employees are more likely to invest their energy in achieving organizational goals.
  6. Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are inevitable in any workplace. Effective communication equips leaders with the skills to address conflicts promptly and constructively. By facilitating open dialogues and ensuring that all perspectives are heard, leaders can resolve issues, strengthen relationships, and maintain a positive organizational culture.
  7. Adaptability and Innovation: The business landscape is dynamic, requiring leaders to navigate change and foster innovation. Effective communication enables leaders to convey the need for adaptation, share new ideas, and encourage a culture that values creativity. A well-communicated vision for innovation propels the organization forward.

Skills leaders need for communicating with influence

Influence is the art of boosting the importance of your ideas or projects within an organisation with many competing priorities. You’re not the only leader who thinks their outcomes are the most important, so how do you leverage influence with your audience to achieve your goals without direct authority over staff? This is a key part of your communicator’s roadmap.

There’s plenty of ways you can  influence others , but generally you need to have some runs on the board first. Leaders who haven’t built relationships, earned trust or gained credibility will be on the back foot straight away when it comes to influencing.

Here are the skills you need as a leader to effectively communicate with influence:

  1. Active Listening: Leaders must actively listen to their team members, colleagues, and stakeholders. This involves giving full attention, asking clarifying questions, and demonstrating empathy. Active listening fosters understanding, builds trust, and allows leaders to tailor their messages to the needs and concerns of their audience.
  2. Clarity and Conciseness: Leaders should be able to articulate their thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely. Avoiding jargon and unnecessary complexity helps ensure that the message is easily understood by a diverse audience. Clarity in communication is crucial for preventing misunderstandings and promoting alignment.
  3. Empathy: Understanding and acknowledging the emotions, perspectives, and needs of others is a key aspect of influential communication. Leaders who demonstrate empathy build stronger connections with their team members, fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.
  4. Adaptability: Effective communicators are adaptable to different communication styles and preferences. Leaders should be able to adjust their approach based on the needs of various stakeholders, whether it’s team members, superiors, or external partners.
  5. Confidence: Confidence in communication inspires trust and credibility. Leaders should convey confidence in their messages, both in verbal and non-verbal communication. A confident leader is more likely to influence others and instill a sense of assurance.
  6. Storytelling: The ability to tell compelling stories is a powerful tool for influential communication. Leaders who can weave narratives around their vision, values, or goals capture the attention and imagination of their audience, making the message more memorable and relatable.
  7. Negotiation and Persuasion: Leaders often need to negotiate with different parties and persuade them to support certain initiatives or decisions. These skills involve understanding the interests of others, finding common ground, and presenting arguments persuasively.
  8. Non-Verbal Communication: Body language, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues play a significant role in communication. Leaders should be aware of their own non-verbal signals and be attuned to those of others, as they can convey as much, if not more, than spoken words.
  9. Feedback and Critique: Leaders should be skilled at providing constructive feedback and offering critique in a way that encourages improvement rather than discouragement. Likewise, they should be open to receiving feedback from others and using it to enhance their own communication effectiveness.
  10. Conflict Resolution: Leaders need to navigate conflicts with diplomacy and tact. Effective communication is essential for resolving disputes, finding common ground, and maintaining positive relationships within the team.
  11. Strategic Communication: Leaders must be able to align their communication with overall organizational strategies. This involves understanding the broader context, communicating a compelling vision, and ensuring that messages support strategic goals.

How to improve communication influence skills

Are there leaders in your organisation who always pull the rank card and issue commands to staff? How do you think they’re perceived by the majority of employees?

Sure, they may get things done, but by not communicating with empathy, they’re missing out on an incredible way to influence. Alarmingly,  a report by Interact  found 69% of leaders feel uncomfortable communicating with staff in general.

In today’s fast-paced world, effective communication skills have become the cornerstone of success. Whether in personal or professional spheres, the ability to influence others through meaningful dialogue is vital. If you desire to enhance your communication influence skills, look no further.

By adopting the right techniques and maintaining a confident and assertive tone, you can navigate any situation with finesse. So, let’s delve into the world of impactful communication and unveil the secrets to effectively influencing others.

Step 1: Develop Active Listening Skills

Active listening is the foundation of influential communication. Leaders should focus on fully understanding others’ perspectives. Practice this by:

  • Example: During team meetings, dedicate specific time for open discussion. Encourage team members to express their thoughts, and actively listen without interrupting. Reflect on their points before responding to ensure comprehension.

Step 2: Enhance Clarity and Conciseness

Clear and concise communication minimizes misunderstandings and enhances influence. Leaders should strive for simplicity and clarity in their messages.

  • Example: When delegating tasks, provide clear instructions with specific expectations. Use straightforward language and encourage team members to seek clarification if needed. This ensures everyone is on the same page.

Step 3: Cultivate Empathy in Interactions

Empathy fosters strong connections and demonstrates authentic leadership. Leaders should actively consider the emotions and perspectives of others.

  • Example: During one-on-one discussions, ask open-ended questions about team members’ experiences and challenges. Show genuine interest and validate their feelings. This cultivates a supportive and empathetic workplace culture.

Step 4: Hone Storytelling Skills

Effective leaders use storytelling to make their messages memorable and relatable. Craft narratives that align with organizational values or goals.

  • Example: In presentations or team meetings, share anecdotes that illustrate key points. Whether it’s a success story or a lesson learned, storytelling captivates attention and reinforces the intended message.

Step 5: Practice Confident and Adaptive Communication

Confidence instills trust, and adaptability ensures effective communication across diverse audiences. Leaders should convey assurance while adjusting their communication style as needed.

  • Example: When addressing the team, maintain a composed demeanor and speak with conviction. When communicating with different stakeholders, adapt your approach based on their preferences, whether it’s through formal reports for superiors or more collaborative discussions with team members.

If you want to find out more about how you develop and elevate your teams communication skills to be more effective you can  find out more here .

Navigating Influence and Communication Challenges in Matrix Leadership

In the dynamic landscape of matrix organizations, possessing exemplary communication skills transcends the mere act of speaking—it necessitates a profound capacity for active listening and engagement. This is particularly crucial for leaders steering the ship in matrix structures, where unique challenges can arise due to multiple reporting lines and cross-functional collaborations.

Understanding the Matrix Organization: In a matrix organization, unlike traditional hierarchical structures, employees report to multiple managers, often across various functions or even geographical locations. This duality introduces complexities that demand astute leadership and nuanced communication strategies.

Communication as an Action: Leaders in matrix organizations must embody the essence of making communication an actionable endeavor, not merely a topic of discussion. A genuine connection with front-line staff is paramount, as productivity falters in the absence of alignment between management and workforce. Leaders must go beyond verbalizing their commitment to improved communication; they must consistently follow through on their promises.

Choosing Effective Communication Channels: The selection of communication channels holds heightened importance in matrix leadership. When addressing emotionally charged issues, opting for face-to-face or video communication is imperative. Emails, while efficient for certain updates, risk lacking the nuanced context crucial for understanding, potentially leading to misinterpretations.

The Power of Collaboration and Influence: In matrix leadership, influence is not just a leadership quality but a strategic imperative. Collaboration serves as both a means of influence and a prerequisite for accomplishing multifaceted goals that transcend departmental and geographical boundaries. Leaders must adeptly navigate collaborations with counterparts from various departments and countries, fostering an environment where shared resources contribute to common objectives.

Understanding Interconnected Responsibilities: To enhance communication and influence, leaders must grasp the responsibilities and skills of their counterparts. This comprehension enables leaders to discern the interdependencies within the matrix, fostering a collaborative approach. Identifying opportunities for mutual benefit and shared resources creates a synergy that propels collective success.

Embracing Opportunities for Growth: The matrix organizational structure offers a distinctive opportunity for professional growth. Leaders and operational staff alike gain a broader perspective by collaborating across functions and geographies. Actively embracing networking opportunities and encouraging staff to transcend their traditional roles fosters a culture of innovation and adaptability.

Elevating Influence in the Matrix: In matrix leadership, where direct authority may be limited, honing influencing skills becomes paramount. A leader’s ability to communicate persuasively and influence outcomes proves instrumental in propelling proposals, ideas, and projects to fruition.

Successful leadership in matrix organizations demands a holistic approach to communication that goes beyond words. By fostering genuine connections, leveraging strategic communication channels, and embracing the collaborative spirit inherent in the matrix structure, leaders can navigate challenges and elevate their influence in this dynamic organizational paradigm.


As you embark on your journey to master the art of communication with influence, remember that it’s not just about the words you say but the impact they create. Embrace the power of authentic connection, active listening, and adaptability. Whether you’re leading in a traditional hierarchy or navigating the intricacies of a matrix organization, the principles remain constant. So, go ahead, communicate with intention, empower your team, and watch the ripple effect of your influence shape a workplace culture that thrives on effective communication. Here’s to becoming the influential leader you aspire to be – one conversation at a time!

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