Paths to Influence

“Research suggests that there are two fundamental paths to influence: dominance and prestige. When we establish dominance, we gain influence because others see us as strong, powerful, and authoritative. When we earn prestige, we become influential because others respect and admire us,” says Adam Grant in his book¬†Give and Take.


Influencing through dominance  comes from others seeing one as strong, powerful and authoritative.

  • Use powerful communication
  • Speak forcefully
  • Raise their voice to assert authority
  • Express¬†certainty to project confidence
  • Promote their accomplishments
  • Push their point with confidence and pride
  • Control conversation
  • When they encounter someone with more dominance they can question their ability to influence in comparison


Influencing in this way earns one respect and admiration.

  • Use powerless communication
  • Speak less assertively
  • Express doubt
  • Rely on the advice of others
  • Show vulnerability
  • Reveal weaknesses 
  • Value the perspectives of others and their interests
  • Ask more questions

Admins and assistants tend to fall into this category.  I would argue that there are important elements in both categories.