Use Influence Rather Than Position

By Dr Peter Chee and Dr Jack Canfield

A wise coach is someone who uses influence rather than position to empower others for moving things forward. In some instances, the coach may be the boss of the person being coached. In those situations, it is tempting to use positional authority, rather than relational influence, to get things done. However, this may leave the coachee feeling powerless, instead of feeling powerful.

In using relational influence, the coach collaborates with others instead of acting like an autocrat to dictate what gets done. Using influence means you get someone to make decisions and take action as a result of their choice, they do things willingly and wholeheartedly.

This brings us to what people regularly ask us, “How can I increase my influence?” There are many ways coaches and leaders can increase their influence. These include establishing a caring and trusting relationship with the coachee that champions the agenda of the person being coached.

Use positive influence to energize people so that they collaborate with you because they want to, not because they have to.

Jack Canfield and Peter Chee

One way a great coach builds influence is by being an excellent listener. An excellent listener who is someone who listens to understand, not one who listens to explain. Showing interest in the coachee and asking powerful questions to trigger their thinking is another good way to establish your influence. Coaches also leverage on relational influence by providing actional feedback which is delivered in an understanding way.

Great coaches manifest good coaching practices by providing continuous support and encouragement, recognizing progress, display genuine appreciation, and help others discover their talents and strengths. Doing all these goes a long way to build, maintain, and expand the positive influence they have with people.

Consider the following coaching questions and think about which questions increases positive influence, and which harms influence building:

  1. Hi, shall we spend the time on discussing the negative impact you have on your colleagues?
  2. Why is it that the problem always starts with you?
  3. Why don’t you do as you are told so you can stop creating problems for the department?
  4. What can you do to overcome the challenges you face in delivering excellent customer service?
  5. If you were the Director for Sales, what would you do to increase conversions?
  6. Who can you seek advice and guidance from to help you close the knowledge gap?

A coach shows the way by being humble and giving up any impulse to be superior over others. People who act as if they are better than others and that they always have the right answers often make poor coaches. They trip over themselves when they make wrong judgments at the expense of others. Thomas G. Crane, author of The Heart of Coaching, states, “To become the powerful and magnificent coach I am capable of becoming, I must learn how to detach, to set my ego needs aside, and to listen deeply with my heart.”

Coaching does not reside in the domain of therapy and so would forego the need to fix others. Instead, they guide people to find their own solutions. When a coach applies positive relational influence, the client becomes more motivated and committed and puts in more effort to achieve results willingly rather than being instructed to do so.

Great coaches guide people to find their own solutions instead of telling others what the potential solutions may be. The coachee becomes more motivated and committed to put in the effort to achieve results. This is when you realize the power of coaching by using relational influence rather than position.


A Case Study of John

John was a sales engineer of a leading equipment supply company who had accumulated a number of customer complaints. In this snapshot of the conversation, see how John benefited from being coached as he was empowered to pursue his goals; aligned with business results; obtained clarity on what needed to be done; collaborated with others; and scheduled another session to put in place systems to ensure success.

John was highly motivated; he made changes and he took action to produce results. This was an effective coaching conversation that clearly demonstrates how a coach uses the positive relational influence of asking questions, listening, and caring, rather than using position.


  1. WHAT can you do to establish, maintain, and expand your positive relational influence?
  2. WHAT can you to remind yourself to use influence rather than position to get things done?
  3. HOW can you let people feel empowered in your coaching conversations?
  4. WHAT are some best practices to increase your influence you can apply today?
  5. WHO are the role-models you can learn from to increase your relational influence?


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World #1 Strategic Innovation Coach and World #3 Coaching Guru Dr Peter Chee

Coaching for Breakthrough Success combines time-tested principles of exemplary coaches with the latest disruptive techniques used by the world’s top performing leaders, this step-by-step playbook shows you how to nurture—in yourself and others—the three essential requirements of coaching excellence