Practical analysis for investment professionals
29 November 2012

Soft Skills for Finance: The Power of Influence

What does the word “influence” mean to you? Does it imply getting what you want? Convincing someone to change their mind? Do you need positional power or a title and direct reports in order to have influence?

Businesses are increasingly moving towards flat and/or matrix organizational structures and valuing and encouraging collaboration and interdependencies across work groups. The ability to influence in all directions and across all types of relationships is likewise becoming increasingly important. In this brave new world, influence doesn’t simply mean achieving a specific outcome you desire but rather collaborating effectively with and leading others collectively towards commitment, outcomes, and change.

Here are some great reads and resources on influence and influential leadership to help you navigate this important topic, define your personal style, and build your skills:

For more news and trends, visit the Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills Community of Practice.

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

About the Author(s)
Heather Packard

Heather Packard is the director of product development at CFA Institute and serves as the subject matter expert in leadership, management, and communication skills (LMCS). Previously, she was the managing partner at Trilogy Corporation of Virginia, where she was responsible for developing and cultivating a regional territory for telecommunications and network integration sales. Packard also served as the coordinator of collections for the Science and Engineering Libraries at the University of Virginia. She holds an BA in English and Spanish Literature from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and an MA in Spanish Literature from the University of Virginia. Topical Expertise: Leadership, Management, and Communication Skills

3 thoughts on “Soft Skills for Finance: The Power of Influence”

  1. Prasad says:

    Great post Heather! The good thing about influence is that it does not necessarily have to be hierarchical in nature. The power distance is definitely a factor, but you can still be influential even if you are not in a higher up in the leadership chain.

    In Organizational Behavior, there is a term which is closest to influence, and that I believe is “network centrality”. You can see this in action in project teams … the project lead is not necessarily the most central person in that team … it’s that one person who knows all the details about the project and is keeping the team from falling apart. That one person is generally internally motivated and loves his/her job!!

  2. Heather Packard says:

    Thanks for the feedback Prasad! I completely agree that anyone at any level can be a powerful influencer but that it’s also particularly important for those who lead and manage others to have a mastery of this. Sometimes managers/leaders aren’t aware of the subtle ways they may be influencing others without necessarily intending to do so, so self-awareness is key.

    You make a good connection with “network centrality” and your project team example.

    1. Matthew Feda says:

      Great post Heather. Also, could not agree more with Prasad more. Keep up the good work.

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