influence executive leadership

The Ability to Influence Others is THE Key Measure of Executive Ability.

If you are an executive or provide executive coaching, you know the executive role requires moving to a new level of leadership. The executive must stop merely doing the needed tasks at hand and shift to overseeing and leading those who must actually do these tasks. Whereas once the aptitude to do the task was most important, now the successful executive must be able to influence others to accomplish what is needed. In fact, doing the actual tasks can be one of the worst expenditures of time and energy an executive can spend. In this way, influence is KEY to growing as an executive.

But How Do We Measure and Grow an Executive’s Ability to Influence Others?

For years, we had to measure influence aptitudes by gut and anecdotal observation. As a student of influence, I have spent 20 years of my life working to change this. The Karen Keller Institute was created for this purpose. In our research, we were able to determine seven key traits that compose influence, and the degree in which each trait is developed provided an objective view of one’s influence abilities, which  we call the Seven Influence Traits™. We then set about to create the first, scientifically-backed test to measure one’s ability to influence others. Pioneered at Clemson University’s prestigious business graduate school, this instrument is called the Keller Influence Indicator® (or KII®).

With the KII®, executives and executive coaches may now establish a clear, numeric benchmark measurement of a person’s ability to exert influence. The KII is dynamic, allowing it to provide a real time measurement; therefore, one’s increased abilities to influence could be measured and tracked over time.

When an executive first takes the KII®, he or is she answers a series of questions, which then generate an overall influence score, the K-Factor™, as well as individual scores for each of the Seven Influence Traits™.

These traits include:

Confidence is having the "whatever-it-takes" attitude. This is your mental attitude of believing in, trusting in, and relying on yourself and your abilities.

Commitment is the underlying force behind achievement. The more determined you are to reach a specific goal, especially in the face of adversity, the more likely you will succeed.

Courage is your strength to face difficult circumstances (or even difficult people) head on.

Passion is the fire in your spirit for what you do. It is the expression of your enthusiasm and your eagerness, and starts the engine for your success.

Empowering is your ability to support peers and share knowledge with them. It also includes how you reward people who make a contribution.

Trustworthiness is a high virtue and is fairly self-explanatory. It is worth noting though that of all the influence traits, this is usually the most crucial. Lose trust, and you instantly lose influence.

Likability is more than being friendly. It’s your capacity to create positive attitudes in the people around you, and focus those attitudes towards a common goal. It is how positive people feel about themselves when with you.

When we are shown their first Influence Indicator score, an executive’s first response is often, “Surely I rank higher.” Do not worry or fear. While the KII® provides an accurate measurement of one’s current influence abilities, it also provides a roadmap to be able to grow these abilities in each of the Seven Influence Traits™. The Keller Influence Institute has also created practical tools to help an executive grow in each of the seven traits. This will serve to raise the influence score, which has a direct affect on real world leadership and influence abilities.

How can Executive Coaches use the Keller Influence Indicator?

The KII® is the perfect coaching tool because it provides new and specific areas in which your executive client can be coached. The executive coach can use the resources we provide, as well as supplemental resources, to grow the traits in which their client is most deficient. He or she can also build upon existing strengths to maximize them for influence potential.

The dynamic, objective benchmark supplied by the KII® also shows the client their investment in your coaching is yielding a return as they see their scores increase over time.

Why do the Seven Traits and Their Corresponding Influence Score Affect Organizational Competency?

Your ability to influence and lead your team, or coach those who do, directly affects the organization as a whole. After all, an organization is the creation of its sum parts. If the parts contain weak links, the organization then has the potential to be weakened. When strong influencers with beneficial ideas and abilities are part of the organization, it becomes stronger.

Tufts University has defined organizational competency for business in the following areas:

•Demonstrate essential skills for a position
•Share expertise
•Support others in learning and skill building
•Show pride in work
•Commit to ongoing professional development

Interaction with Others
•Demonstrate requisite communication skills
•Be open to different viewpoints
•Show respect for others
•Collaborate on joint projects and decisions
•Give and receive candid and helpful feedback

Continuous Improvement
•Contribute to measurable improvement made in systems or processes
•Develop system efficiency
•Value innovation and creativity
•Commit to generating new solutions and ideas

Customer Focus
•Pay attention to and focus on customer satisfaction
•Develop effective and appropriate relationships with customers
•Anticipate and meet the needs of both internal and external customers

Resourcefulness and Results
•Work effectively in a variety of situations
•Demonstrate good work habits, flexibility, creativity, and initiative
•Use multiple resources to achieve desired results
•Seek input and assess risks when making decisions
•Take action
•Commit to getting things done

•Model desired behaviors
•Act as a catalyst for change through positive energy
•Articulate goals and objectives and their value

As we observe this list, it becomes quickly apparent how each individual influence trait benefits the organizational competencies. Let’s take the confidence trait as an example and apply its affect on several of the competencies above. Consider the following ways the confidence trait, or lack thereof, plays out in the organizational environment to increase or decrease organizational competency.

WIll be no authority when an executive shares expertise. Expertise sharing will be well received by the
executive's hearers.
Little or no collaboration because the exec will feel threatened by any other opinions. The executive is ensured of his or her identity
and can hear collaborative opinions, even if dissenting.
Will lack commitment to developing systems and process that might stretch his or her abilities. Will gladly develop the best system and process for the problem knowing that they may be stretched but possessing the assurance they can rise to the challenge.
Fearful of giving constructive feedback. Assured in giving constructive feedback.
Paralyzed against taking action needed for organization well-being and momentum. Leads the way in taking quick, responsible action that is
in the best interest of the organization.
Does not put customers first because he or she operates out of fear and self-protection. Can put customer's needs first because he or she understands a satisfied customer is the best reflection upon himself or herself.
Prefers the status quo over catalyzing change because they have survived in the status quo thus far. Will catalyze change simply because it is the best way forward for the organization regardless of self-impact confident that he or she will land on their feet.













This example is simply an observation of one of the Seven Influence Traits™ applied to organizational competency. Imagine when all seven traits work in tandem to increase an executive’s influence. The organizational success results are significant.

How Do I Tap Into Growing my Executive Influence or my Client’s Executive Influence?

The first steps are actually quite simple. View a sample Keller Influence Indicator® report for yourself. Then, take a complimentary trial version of the Keller Influence Indicator®. Once you see how valuable the KII® and the potential it has to be a game changer for executive growth, you will want to have access to the full version for yourself and your clients.

If you are an executive coach, we even have a certification plan available allowing you to incorporate the KII® and its corresponding resources at exclusive prices. You can distinguish your executive coaching from others while assuring your clients you are fully accredited in using the KII®

Building stronger influencers builds a better organization!


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From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina