4 Steps to Influence Your Organization

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 5/1/2024
Influence Meetup Article Header

If you want to gain influence and create change in your organization, you’re going to have to get REAL: resonate, educate, activate and liberate.

  • Resonate on a professional and personal level.
  • Educate using stories and analogies.
  • Activate buy-in by listening.
  • Liberate yourself from limiting beliefs to unleash influence.

At an AFP Virtual Meet-Up, Rich Schlentz shared how getting REAL will make you a more effective business partner. Below are key takeaways from his four tips.

1. Resonate on a Professional and Personal Level

To resonate is to connect. The first step to being able to resonate is to understand what you’re providing for your business partners. Whether it’s a staff member or a senior executive, understand what they want and how what you’re providing them helps them achieve that goal.

In order to resonate with someone, you must be able to speak their value language. Ask yourself these questions when you’re thinking about a specific business partner within your organization:

  • What’s on their mind?
  • What challenges are they facing?
  • What are the words and terminology that will capture their attention?
  • What jargon should be avoided?

How do you answer these questions? By listening. Pay attention to what they tell you and how they communicate.

While resonating on a professional level is important, having a human connection is important, too. Connecting on a personal level requires asking questions that fall into one of three categories:

  • Factual questions: These are usually asked at the beginning of a relationship. For example, “Where is your hometown?”
  • Causative questions: These are follow-ups to factual questions. For example, if you learn that your colleague is originally from Toledo and your office is in Austin, you might ask, “How did you get from Toledo to Austin?”
  • Value-based questions: These help you understand what’s important to someone. For example, “Based on what you know now, if you were to give advice to your younger self, what would you say?”

All of this helps build rapport. And you will gain human insight, which goes beyond any data you could ever present.

AFP Virtual Meet-Ups

Get real-time feedback on timely, relevant topics from your treasury and finance peers.

  • May 15, 2024, 2 PM ET: AI in Action
  • June 26, 2024, 12 PM ET: Don’t Blink: Fraud Can Happen When You Least Expect It

Learn More About Meet-Ups

2. Educate Using Stories and Analogies

Translating your finance expertise into concepts that are familiar to your business audience increases understanding and makes the information more memorable. Two of the most powerful tools for educating are stories and analogies.


Business storytelling is an effective tool for communicating information because stories pique curiosity, capture attention, engage the imagination, and are relatable and re-tellable. There are five things to keep in mind when using stories in business:

  1. Start at the story: Rather than signaling that you’re about to tell a story, go right into the story to capture your listener’s attention.
  2. Begin with the incident: Skip the setup and go directly to the action point of what you’re trying to communicate.
  3. Involve the senses: Choose the sense(s) that will best activate your listener’s imagination; within the story, invoke their ability to see, hear, touch, taste or smell.
  4. Edit for power: Don’t waste your listener’s time making the story longer than it needs to be; a business story is the means to your factual presentation, not the goal of the presentation itself.
  5. Bridge to business relevance: Ensure your audience has a “lightbulb” moment as they connect the content of your story to the business topic at hand.


Finance professionals deal with a lot of complex information that may not be common knowledge for people outside of finance. Analogies can help you translate these complex topics into commonly known and understood terms.

For example, you could describe an accounting accrual like an escrow on a mortgage payment. The mortgage company takes the forecasted amount of property taxes and home insurance and collects the amount in 12 monthly allotments each year.

3. Activate Buy-In by Listening

An audience may respond in one of three ways: active support, rejection or the squishy middle ground of compliance without support. Two of those three outcomes are working against your own goals. You have to get them to want to commit by listening, asking skillful questions and understanding their “what’s in it for me?”

For example, if you are building a relationship with a new business partner, instead of telling them what they need to do, ask questions to understand their needs better:

  • What are your goals?
  • What's going well?
  • Where are you getting stuck?
  • What would success look like for you?

By asking these questions, you uncover critical information with which you can sell your recommendations and expertise. A solution built on a foundation of understanding is more likely to get buy-in.

4. Liberate Limiting Beliefs to Unleash Influence

A belief about yourself or the world is limiting when it prevents you from reaching your full potential.

For example, maybe at one point in your career, you were told that you are not good at financial analysis. By thinking about that belief over and over, you may have internalized it and made it part of your identity.

What limiting beliefs are reducing your impact and influence as a business partner? Have an honest conversation with yourself. Identify your beliefs and assess whether they are accurate.

Once you’ve identified a limiting belief, reframe your negative thoughts as positive affirmations to build your belief in yourself. For example, instead of thinking, “I don’t have enough time,” remind yourself, “I have the ability to reorganize my time to prioritize what’s most important to me.”

By taking hold of new truths, you can unleash the full power of your influence.

Copyright © 2024 Association for Financial Professionals, Inc.
All rights reserved.