Influencing change

Influencing change - two colleagues discussion some documents

What makes someone successful in influencing change? You may not have an exact answer, yet if I asked you who was influential in your team or department, a few names would probably spring to mind. I’ve had several discussions on the topic recently, trying to define the attributes of an influencer, and these are the traits that came up most often:

  • They feel personally invested in making the change happen.
  • They have empathy for their audience and know their subject matter well so they can explain it in a way that is compelling to those they speak to.
  • They are able to translate the ideas to fit the context of those they are trying to persuade.
  • They are trusted by those they interact with and demonstrate trust and respect in return.

Of course, if you’re looking to transform a whole organization, these characteristics may not be enough. In environments that are very hierarchical, influencers will either need to have decision-making power themselves or have someone with authority clearly supporting them.

Nevertheless, if you’re trying to make change happen in your team, then developing these qualities in yourself is not a bad place to start.


When you try to make a change happen, take the time to ensure you really understand what you are trying to do and think carefully about how it will affect those around you. When you speak to someone, put yourself in their shoes so that you can explain things in a way which makes sense to them.