How to Influence Leaders to Drive Organizational Change

How to Influence Leaders to Drive Organizational Change


Influencing leaders within organizations is crucial for driving organizational development (OD) initiatives and fostering positive change.  Demonstrating strong influence skills is vital for OD professionals.  From the initial meeting to the end of the OD intervention, OD Professionals use their influence skills to build rapport, develop strong relationships, build trust, gain commitment, understand the client’s needs, and learn how to work with leaders and their teams. 

Here are several strategies that OD professionals can use to demonstrate influence skills  effectively:

  1. Establishing trust and credibility with leaders is the most critical role for OD practitioners to gain support and buy-in. OD professionals can influence leaders effectively and drive positive change by building rapport, maintaining confidentiality, understanding their needs, and becoming valued partners in driving organizational success.
  2. Understanding Leaders’ Priorities and Concerns—By asking insightful questions about their challenges and listening to understand their unique circumstances, OD practitioners can tailor their approaches and recommendations to align with leaders’ needs and objectives, increasing the likelihood of gaining support for OD initiatives.
  3. Communication Skills: Effective communication is not just a tool but a potent weapon for OD practitioners to influence leaders and gain their support for OD initiatives. Communicating ideas, recommendations, and insights concisely and compellingly is a skill and a strategic approach. Using data, case studies, and real-life examples is not just a tactic but a persuasive technique to illustrate the potential benefits of OD initiatives and convince leaders of their value.

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  1. Providing evidence-based recommendations is a crucial strategy for influencing leaders. OD practitioners should conduct thorough research, analysis, and evaluation to do this effectively.  Their findings should be presented in a clear, concise, and compelling presentation and report. This could involve using visual aids, such as charts or graphs, to present empirical evidence, benchmarking data, and best practices and explain how these support the case for investing in OD initiatives.
  2. Developing relationships and networks is a critical strategy and key influence driver for OD practitioners. By proactively engaging with leaders, building networks across the organization, and seeking opportunities to collaborate on shared goals and initiatives, practitioners can gain insights into leaders’ priorities and concerns and leverage influential leaders’ support to drive change. These relationships can also provide a platform for sharing success stories and testimonials, further reinforcing leaders’ confidence in the value of OD initiatives.
  3. Demonstrating value and impact can be accomplished by tracking and measuring key performance indicators, such as KPIs, goals, performance indicators, and employee engagement factors. Conducting feedback sessions and surveys are frequently used to collect data, identify opportunities for improvement, and or share success stories and testimonials that highlight the tangible benefits of OD initiatives. By doing so, OD practitioners can demonstrate the direct link between their work and the organization’s business goals, reinforcing leaders’ confidence in their ability to drive positive change.
  4. OD practitioners must be flexible and adaptive when helping leaders. By remaining agile and responsive to the client’s needs and challenges, OD practitioners can maintain their influence and increase their effectiveness in helping leaders customize solutions to drive sustainable change within organizations.

Influencing Leaders is a critical skill for your success as an OD Professional. You can increase your trust and credibility by understanding the Leader’s priorities and concerns, demonstrating effective communication and active listening skills, providing evidence-based recommendations, developing relationships and networks, achieving value and impact, and remembering to be flexible and adaptive to support your client’s needs.

If you want to advance in the field of OD as an OD Professional and learn more about influencing leaders to Impact positive change, consider advancing your professional development with an OD Certification Program with the Institute of Organization Development.  Please visit our website at to find out more.  Check out our certification programs, workshops, educational resources, and enterprise solutions.

About the Author

Dr. Nancy Zentis, Ph.D.,
CEO and Founder of the Institute of Organization Development. Contact: The Institute of Organization Development offers online Certification Programs on Organization Development, OD Process Consulting, Talent Management, Executive Coaching

 IOD also sponsors, a global OD Professional Membership Organization, offering member benefits such as a Professional Directory, OD Tools, Monthly Events, a Job Board, and Member Connect.  If you are interested in joining, click here.


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