Persuasive Forms of Leadership

Persuasive Forms of Leadership

How Styles of Leadership Affect Leadership

Persuasive leadership manifests itself in several forms. Typically the most persuasive leaders maintain styles of leadership that are conducive to methods of persuasion. For instance charismatic leaders and consensus based leadership styles are more apt to employ methods that are persuasive to followers or organizational members. This is in contrast to leaders who are autocratic or manipulative. When leadership is viewed in this way the ability of leaders to persuade becomes intricately linked with the style and methods of leadership.

Leaders employ different methods including rational persuasion, blocking, inspirational appeals, consultation, ingratiation, pressure, and coalition building (Rusaw, 2003). These methods of influencing individuals will typically coincide with the leadership style of the leader. For example an autocratic leader will be less likely to employ a rational persuasion or inspirational appeal because these types of leaders maintain more rigid views of how leadership should be. These types of leaders might be more apt to apply pressure or threats as a means of persuading followers (Rusaw, 2003). In the same framework of leadership democratic leaders might be prone to using rational persuasion or consultation approaches to persuading followers. Regardless of the type of leader there are several components of persuasive leadership which leaders must possess in order to be effective.

There are four components of leadership which create effective persuasion. These components include: Building trust, Credibility, Common ground, and Compelling position (Casteen, 2004). Building trust is one of the most important aspects of persuasion. A leader will have little influence over followers if he or she cannot instill a level of trust. Public leadership necessitates building trust in order to carry out the most important part of its mission in accomplishing change for the public good. The public leader who lacks the ability to build trust will be unable to build alliances with political groups or with interest groups necessary for making change.

This idea of building trust goes hand in hand with the second component of persuasion, which is Credibility. Leaders build trust through credibility which in lay terms might seem to be defining the same thing but there is a subtle difference in the terminology. Credibility is the attribute of trust in which leaders build from demonstrating their ability to deal with issues and concerns of their constituency. As leaders handle and discuss issues this shows followers that the leader is capable of meeting the demands of leadership. Thus having credibility means that leaders are trusted in their ability beyond even what they have demonstrated. President Barack Obama’s credibility has been defined across his career in his commitment to healthcare. The President’s view on healthcare has never wavered and his earlier career moves such as supporting funding to healthcare programs positioned him so that when he became president he was able to pass the largest healthcare bill ever created (Casteen, 2004). This was due in part from his credibility with congress and the American people.

Another aspect of persuasive leadership is the concept of common ground. Public leaders share a purpose in seeking specific change, persuasion is made easier. Sharing a common purpose unifies leaders with followers and makes the change process easier since there is little resistance. Sometimes the concept of common ground can be as simple as having an understanding of the average person. President Obama shared a common purpose with many followers in that they understood him to be a person who had worked hard to earn his leadership and lifestyle. This is in contrast to leaders such as President George Bush Jr. who seemed to have been greatly disconnected with the common person. This disconnect makes identifying with a leader next to impossible because constituents cannot understand how this leader could possible understand their issues.

The fourth and perhaps most important aspect of persuasive leadership is the idea of having a compelling position. The compelling position is the ability to emotionally and cognitively engage the follower. Whether it is the use of facts or appeals to emotion the leader must be able to present and communicate his or her position in a manner which connects the follower to the issue and proposition of change. President Obama was able to persuade followers through his compelling vision of healthcare. Somehow during one of the worst recessions in history, Obama was able to persuade congress and the American people that a massive and expensive healthcare bill was needed and that it could not wait until there was a better economic climate. This was due to Obama’s ability to present a compelling position.

These components of persuasion work together to form a strong leadership. Public leaders who have styles of leadership which accentuate these components become even more persuasive. Understanding one’s individual leadership style is important to understanding how to be a persuasive leader. When we look at some of the greatest public leaders we see how their style made them strong. Teddy Roosevelt was in many ways an autocratic leader who supported imperialism and had a philosophy of ‘walk softly but carry a big stick’ (Spark Notes, 2011). Roosevelt was also considered a great reformer and fought to break up monopolies and businesses which he felt were working against the free market. Roosevelt was able to create a compelling vision and build trust with the American people because in many ways he shared a common purpose with them in wanting them to succeed in business (Bennis, 2006). This is in contrast to leaders such as George Bush Jr. who were unable to create a common ground with the people. “…never has a leadership posture so at odds with the contingencies thrust upon it been employed so aggressively….” (Rajaee, 2005). Meaning that Bush had to fight for every change he made because he was unable to be truly persuasive. Perhaps if George Bush had understood the components of persuasion his presidency would not have met with such resistance.


Bennis, Warren (2006) Why Lead? Leadership Excellence. Vol. 23 Issue 10, p4–5, 2p

Casteen, III, John T. (2004) The Power of Persuasion. Vol 7 Issue 1, p40–41, 2p

Rusaw, C. (2003). Leading Public Organizations: An Interactive Approach. Belmont, CA: Harcourt Thomson 1st (ed.)

Rajaee, B. (2005) Assessing the Leadership of George Bush American Political Science Association Retrieved from http://www.apsanet.org/content_24011.cfm

Spark Notes. (2011)Theodore Roosevelt Retrieved from http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/troosevelt/summary.html

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Fri, Mar 12, 2021. Persuasive Forms of Leadership Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/persuasive-forms-of-leadership

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