Change the Way You Persuade: Tactics of Influence in Remote Team Management

Imagine that you discuss an unresolved issue with your remote team. You need to prove that your approach to solving the existing problem is the only correct one. Your remote team does not seem to agree. The conflict of interests appears, and you cannot incline your employees to willingly move in your direction.

Which strategy would you choose to persuade your colleagues?

Basically, there are three approaches to gaining persuasive success:

1. Combative

This approach is somewhat old school and quite harsh. Therefore, we would not recommend choosing it if you want to succeed in persuading and influencing.

A combative approach involves threatening the opponent with regrettable consequences if they do not agree with you.

Perhaps this strategy worked in parent-child relationships decades ago, but not today and not in virtual team conflicts. In most cases, it will fail and drive the opponent farther away from your position.

2. Rational

This approach involves appealing to the opponent’s reason and trying to convince them with the help of logical arguments. The rational approach is less harsh than the combative one, but it still lacks the power of influence.

3. Relationship-raising

This approach is the simplest but most powerful one. Before making a request for change from your opponent, you should mention your existing relationship and say how valuable it is to you.

For example:

We’ve been working together / been partners for a while now, and we share the same goals. So I’d be grateful if you could find a way to change your opinion on [subject].

The most important part of the relationship raising approach is the incorporation of the “we,” “our,” and “us” pronouns into your request.

However, people are different and they often customize these approaches or even invent their own ones, depending on the situation. Everyone has their own set of persuasion skills and tactics.

In this article, we are going to explain which of them work best for building trust in your remote team.

Types of Persuasive Leaders

In 2002, Harvard Business Review studied the decision making styles of over 1,600 executives across a wide range of industries, initially based on their purchasing decisions.

During this two year study, the researchers defined the following five types of persuasive leaders.

Type # 1: Controllers

This is the rarest type, according to the research. Driven by their own insecurities and fears, controllers focus on pure analytics and facts in an argument. Therefore, their approach to persuasion and influencing others is closer to the rational one.


Here are the key characteristics of controllers:

  • They often have strong personalities.
  • They see things only from their own perspectives, rarely listening to others.
  • In their own minds, they are the best marketing experts, the best salespeople, and the best strategists.
  • They are often self-absorbed. There can be long moments of silence during their interaction with people.
  • When persuading others, they use structured and logical arguments.

Type # 2: Thinkers

Thinkers are the most difficult decision makers to understand and the toughest ones to persuade. Like controllers, they put logic before emotions.

@brucemars — Unsplash

Their key traits are as follows:

  • They have a strong desire for comparative data.
  • They are not risky and make only informed, carefully weighed decisions, accepting only the low-risk opportunities.
  • Like controllers, they present and accept only logical arguments, supported with evidence.
  • They often do not reveal their intentions until they make a final decision.

Type # 3: Skeptics

Skeptics are highly suspicious of all data they receive, especially any information that contradicts their world view.

@punttim — Unsplash

Here’s what characterizes this type of persuasion leadership:

  • They can be demanding, disagreeable, rebellious, and even antisocial, so the combative approach to persuasion may fit them well.
  • They are often self absorbed and act primarily on their feelings. At the same time, they may ignore the feelings of other people.
  • They tend to trust people who are similar to them, in terms of going to the same college or working at the same company.

Type # 4: Charismatics

Charismatics are open to risk and can quickly absorb large amounts of information.

@andrewtneel — Unsplash

Their other traits are as follows:

  • They tend to perceive the world visually.
  • They want to quickly move from the big idea to the specifics.
  • They are captivating, dominant, enthusiastic, persistent, and results driven. When persuading, they use the buzzwords such as results, actions, focus, etc.
  • If they cannot find any facts to support their emotions, they quickly lose their enthusiasm.
  • They have a short attention span and thus accept simple and straightforward arguments.

Type # 5: Followers

As per the research, this is the most common type. These are people whose decisions are based either on their own or other trusted executives’ similar choices made in the past.

@jeremyappy — Unsplash

Here are some typical traits of the followers:

  • They have a fear of making the wrong choice.
  • They trust in known brands that pose less risk.
  • As responsible decision makers, they often work at large corporations.
  • When persuading others, they use the examples of other similar brands that they trust.

Types of Power at the Workplace

Power and influence in organizations are always interconnected, so in this section, we are going to talk about the most common types of power that you can find at the workplace.

1. Coercive

This type of power pertains to people who are in a position to punish others. At the workplace, employees fear the consequences of not doing what they have been asked.

This type of power is associated with the combative type of persuasion and the controller or skeptic types of persuasive leaders.

2. Connective

This power type is based on networking with other powerful people in the organization. This type of power can be characteristic of the followers that rely on the experience of other leaders. They can form coalitions with other people as well as learn from each other’s experiences and persuasive skills.

3. Expert

This power comes from a person’s expertise. This is typically a person with superior skill or accomplishment, for example, an MBA and /or a Ph.D. in the work-related specialization. However, to keep their power and influence, experts should continue learning and improving their skills.

4. Informational

This power type is held by people with access to important or wanted information. For example, a project manager may have the information required for a specific project. However, this type of power is a short-term one and typically ends when the information is disclosed.

5. Motivational

This type of power bases itself on a person’s ability to reward others in the form of job assignments, schedules, bonuses, raises, or benefits.

@ditakesphotos — Unsplash

6. Positional

This power type is derived from a legitimate position, job title, status, or responsibilities of a person. People possessing this type of power have control over people in a lower position in an organization.

However, you should be careful when using this power, as not everyone may think that you deserve your position. The best advice is to combine the positional power with other types of power, such as expert.

7. Referent

This type of power is typically held by people with a sound knowledge of effective chat techniques and relationship-building skills. At the workplace, referent power is typically possessed by charismatic leaders who excel in making others feel comfortable around them. As a result, the employees become committed to their work because of the leader’s likability, basing their self-esteem on the leader’s approval.

Influencing Strategies of a Persuasive Leader

Are you up to convincing your team to go remote or influence your existing remote team to a certain extent? If yes, then here are the four strategies by Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School that would help you.

I. Show up

The power of presence. As Woody Allen said in the 1970s, “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” It is difficult to communicate face to face when leading a remote team, but modern video conferencing tools make it possible to be present at the meetings as if they were “live”.

II. Speak up

The power of voice. Speaking up refers to not just talking but putting your ideas into words that persuade people to see you as a leader.

III. Team up

The power of partnering. Being together as a team is especially crucial for a remote setting with limited communication opportunities. Technical or business skills are not enough for a remote team leader.

@linkedinsalesnavigator — Unsplash

We recommend that you get to know each team member personally and organize yearly retreats for your remote team so they can meet each other in person.

IV. Never give up

The power of persistence. At the workplace, every day something can overwhelm you and make you feel like you want to walk away and never look back.

However, there are many inspiring examples of strong personalities that failed but did not give up.

Over to You

Speaking the language of persuasion is especially important in a remote team setting.

To succeed as an influencing and persuasive remote team leader, you must first decide which type of leader you are – charismatic, follower, thinker, skeptic, or controller – and which approach to persuasion you should choose – a combative, a rational, or a relationship raising one.

@rawpixel — Unsplash

Then you must choose the type of power that you would typically possess, such as coercive, connection, expert, informational, positional, referent, or motivational. Finally, you should follow the four key influencing strategies at the virtual workplace – show up, speak up, team up, and never give up.

We hope that our material will help you become more efficient as a remote team leader. If you feel that you need some assistance on your way to management success, feel free to request a free consultation from our expert team. They’ll take you to the ins-and-outs of remote work culture.

Written by
Mary Atamaniuk

Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist, her areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.

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