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Why you’re not influencing effectively unless you balance your push and pull

As a leader your influence is a fundamental aspect of your skill set that enables you to achieve your outcomes-based objectives, but are you getting the balance right?

While either preparing to influence or influencing in the moment, it’s important to consider the amount of 'push' and 'pull' influence you're delivering during your interactions with all your stakeholders. Getting the balance right between the two can make the difference between success and failure.

Read on to discover how mastering the art of push and pull influencing can deliver the win-win outcomes you need to become an even more brilliant influential leader.

What do we mean by push and pull?

'Push' and 'pull' are terms used in the context of influencing strategies in a similar way to their use in negotiation. These strategies refer to different approaches leaders use to influence others' behaviours or decisions. Here's how push and pull influencing works.

Push influencing: In a push influencing strategy, leaders use their authority, expertise, or persuasive communication, to push their ideas, suggestions, or directives onto others. This approach involves asserting influence to guide others in a particular direction. Push influencers often emphasise the importance of their viewpoint, the potential benefits, and the reasons for following their lead.

Key characteristics of push influencing include:

  • Direct communication: Push influencers communicate their opinions, ideas or instructions directly and clearly.

  • Expertise: They may rely on their knowledge, experience or credentials to establish their credibility and authority.

  • Confidence: Push influencers exhibit confidence in their viewpoints and may use assertive language to persuade others.

  • Goal clarity: Their focus is on achieving a specific outcome or objective, and push influencers are determined to guide others toward that goal.

Pull influencing: In a pull influencing strategy, leaders create an environment where others are drawn to their ideas or suggestions naturally. This approach involves inspiring and motivating others to voluntarily align with the influencer's goals. Pull influencers focus on building relationships, inspiring trust, and creating a sense of shared purpose.

Key characteristics of pull influencing include:

  • Inspiration: Pull influencers inspire and motivate others by demonstrating enthusiasm, vision and a compelling mission.

  • Empathy and listening: They take the time to listen to others' needs, concerns and viewpoints, showing genuine interest in other perspectives.

  • Building relationships: Pull influencers prioritise building strong relationships and connections with others.

  • Shared values: They emphasise shared values and goals, seeking alignment between their objectives and those of the people they're influencing.

  • Collaborative approach: Pull influencers foster collaboration and encourage participation, allowing others to contribute to the decision-making process.

In practice, both push and pull influencing strategies can be effective in different situations. The choice of strategy often depends on the context, the relationships involved, and the desired outcomes.

Skilled leaders may use a combination of both strategies, adjusting their approach based on the personalities and preferences of the people they are trying to influence. Effective influencers recognise that building trust, understanding others, and creating a sense of purpose are essential elements of successful influencing, regardless of whether they are using a push or pull approach.

To find out more about our leadership coaching and the ALIGNED® talent model, please contact me at so we can continue the conversation.


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