Chapter Five. Best Practices in the Use of Proactive Influence Tactics by Leaders

Gary Yukl

To be effective, a leader must influence people to carry out requests, support proposals, and implement decisions. In large organizations it is necessary to exert influence on superiors and peers as well as on subordinates. Influence in one direction tends to enhance influence in other directions.

The type of behavior used by one person (the “agent”) in an attempt to influence another person (the “target”) is called an influence tactic. Proactive tactics have an immediate task objective, such as influencing the target person to carry out a new task, provide assistance on a project, provide necessary resources, or approve a proposed change. Examples include rational persuasion (using facts and logic) and inspirational appeals (linking a request to target values and ideals). Proactive tactics can be distinguished from impression management tactics, which are used to influence someone to like you more or to evaluate your skills and performance more favorably.

This chapter describes eleven types of proactive influence tactics, explains what has been learned about their relative effectiveness, and provides guidelines on how to use them for leading people in organizations. The chapter also includes a brief description of how the proactive tactics can be used to resist unwanted influence attempts by others.

Influence Outcomes

The effectiveness of a proactive tactic can be evaluated in terms ...

Get The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.