Leveraging Your Influence with Vivian Blade

With an increasing number of employees leaving their organizations as part of the Great Resignation, it’s more important than ever that we as people leaders create an environment where employees feel valued and want to be. A great way to do this is by developing your influence in the workplace, over your people, work culture, and organization.

Today I’m joined by Vivian Blade, leadership expert and thought leader, to discuss skills and tactics that leaders can use to have more influence in the workplace, including influencing up the ladder, and how to leverage that influence for your own mental health. By utilizing these tactics and developing these skills, we can create workplaces with higher trust, engagement, and psychological safety.

Listen in as Vivian details the Influence with SCALE framework and what being influential really means, so we can start leveraging our influence for positive change today.

Listen on your favourite podcast player


About Vivian Blade

Recognized as one of Engagedly’s Top 100 Global HR Influencers of 2021, Vivian Blade is a sought-after leadership expert and thought leader. She works with the world’s top brands to build better, more resilient workplaces, equipping leaders to solve the pressing burnout, turnover, and workplace culture challenges your company is struggling with right now. 

Her impact is felt as a frequent keynote speaker, and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive and team coaching, and corporate consulting. She also works in academia as an Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Project Management for the University of Louisville College of Business.

Vivian is the author of four books, most recently the Amazon #1 best-seller Resilience Ready: The Leader’s Guide to Thriving Through Unrelenting Crises, and Influence in Talent Development.

To learn more you can visit Vivian’s website and connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Mentioned In This Episode:




influence, people, leaders, values, feels, important, influential, mental health, organization, hr professionals, vivian, podcast, workplace, social capital, principles, engage, behavior, influencers, connect, impact


Vivian Blade, Lindsay Recknell

Lindsay Recknell  00:01

You are a people leader or an HR professional, working hard to create an amazing employee experience for your team and your organization. But between the operational tasks of your job managing emotions and politics both up and down the corporate ladder, and trying to find some semblance of work life integration in your own life, I suspect you are also overwhelmed and burnt out. If even the thought of navigating the complicated world of mental health at work probably seems like too much to handle.

Lindsay Recknell  00:30

Let this podcast be your not so secret weapon to help fix that. I’m your host Lindsay Recknell. And my mission is to help great leaders like you feel less awkward and more confident talking about mental health at work. So you can stress less, take more action and continue to make a valuable difference in your job as a leader positively impacting the lives of your I’ll be bringing you the experts insights and actions that will give you the skills you need to navigate mental health in the workplace and foster a workplace where everyone’s mental health can thrive.

Lindsay Recknell  01:04

It is my pleasure to introduce you to today’s podcast guests and upcoming SHRM conference speaker Vivian Blade, recognized as one of Recognized as one of Engagedly’s Top 100 Global HR Influencers of 2021, Vivian Blade is a sought-after leadership expert and thought leader. She works with the world’s top brands to build better, more resilient workplaces, equipping leaders to solve the pressing burnout, turnover, and workplace culture challenges your company is struggling with right now.   Her impact is felt as a frequent keynote speaker, and in delivering transformative leadership development programs, executive and team coaching, and corporate consulting. She also works in academia as an Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Project Management for the University of Louisville College of Business.  Vivian is the author of four books, most recently the Amazon #1 best-seller Resilience Ready: The Leader’s Guide to Thriving Through Unrelenting Crises, and Influence in Talent Development.  Vivian is insightful, intelligent and delightful, so let’s get to her episode.

Lindsay Recknell  02:02

Before we get started, I want your time to be valuable here. So in order to get the most from this podcast, head to my website at https://mentalhealthforleaders.com. And download the  Guide to Influence & Impact at Work, which has the step by step action plan, you’ll need to embed a focus on mental health into the employee experience of your workplace, it’s totally free. And it’ll give you the start to your action plan steps to follow to create engagement to build a budget and a method to measure the value influence and impact that you are going to be making as you lead this transformational change in your organization. We haven’t been taught the mental health skills we need to truly lead our organizations into the future. So let this guide and this podcast be the advantage you need to elevate your career, your leadership skills and the positive impact you’ll bring to your organization, head to https://mentalhealthforleaders.com and download the free  Guide to Influence & Impact at Work now. The opportunity is yours, and I cannot wait to see what you’ll do.

Lindsay Recknell  02:59

All right. Now let’s get to our guest. Hello, Vivian. Welcome to the show.

Vivian Blade  03:04

Hi, thank you so much, Lindsay. I’m so excited to be with you today.

Lindsay Recknell  03:07

I am so excited as well. I loved our conversation we had prior to recording this podcast episode. And I know we’re gonna have lots of really great things to talk about. Maybe before we get started, we could have you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about who you are and what you do.

Vivian Blade  03:22

Sure, thank you so much. You know, my passion really is around helping leaders and HR professionals build better workplaces. We’ve gone through so much, especially during the pandemic in recent times. And you know, how do we continue to be resilient? How do we adjust as we move forward? So, yeah, a lot of my work is really spent around that space in helping leaders be more confident and just be the best that they can be so that they can have the best organizations that they can have.

Lindsay Recknell  03:56

Amazing. Well, this podcast is definitely here to help with that. So I’m extra glad that you’re gonna be here to share some of those insights with us. You’re also going to be at the SHRM conference in June coming up here in June of 2022. In New Orleans, I can’t wait to go. Tell us a little bit more about your talk there and what our audience can expect when they are sitting there in that audience.

Vivian Blade  04:21

Yeah, for HR professionals, you know, I chose the topic and propose the topic around influence and, and how we as HR professionals, can really elevate our confidence in being influential, our credibility around being influential, and our impact and how we use that influence to influence the organization in our work each and every day. And so during that session, we’re really going to explore some of the framework that we’re going to talk about today, but specific strategies around how we can do that. No, we’re influencing all the time and so how can we be more influential, grow that credibility, grow our impact and our confidence in ourselves. And in that space, that’s where we’ll be focusing our time. When we’re at the SHRM conference.

Lindsay Recknell  05:14

Amazing can’t even wait. And I love that we get a little bit of a preview here on the show today, I feel like influence. You’re right, like you said, it’s something that we’re doing all the time. And I wonder how conscious it is. For many leaders, what’s been your experience, when you bring up the language of influence with leaders in the workplace?

Vivian Blade  05:36

Yeah, we’re not really very conscious of it is part of the challenge. Because most of the time, we’re going along in our day to day just at work and interactions with people, and not really thinking a whole lot about those interactions, and the effect that they have, or the type of influence that we are having, or the effect that that influence is having in our workplace. So I absolutely find that Lindsay, that there’s a lot more awareness setting that we can do around this skill set.

Lindsay Recknell  06:07

And it is truly a skill to be learned, I’m encouraged to hear that it can be learned, because when you first started talking about influence, and I started thinking about this, the immediate thing, the unconscious bias that came to mind was negative influence, you know, I can hear my mom in my head going that kids a bad influence in your life. So can we talk about positive influence and how we can I don’t know how we can positively influence without the negative connotation that sometimes comes with it maybe about manipulation or something like that?

Vivian Blade  06:42

Yeah. And you are right. Part of what I talk about, and invite from my research and talk about in the book are some of those very mistakes from some of those experiences that we have absolutely had manipulation, we’re trying to do instant influence. And what my proposal is, and what I encourage leaders to do is think about the long game about influence to be influential, rather than just using influence tactics, there will be time. And I always ask this question. I mean, I asked you this question, too, when we get to the big conference. So you guys be thinking about your response to this. But I asked people, are you an influencer? Or are you influential? And I asked that question before I give an explanation of the two just to see where people’s heads are about that. And, in fact, there will be times when we’re both and let me explain. So influencers. There are times when we need people to make a decision, we need to persuade people to think about things in the way that we’re thinking about them, we’re seeing them, we’ve got a proposal on the table we want people to buy in. And so we need to pull out some of those influence tactics from our toolkit or toolbox to be able to move the the decisions or the conversations or the process forward at that particular point in time. But where we have really greater latitude and leverage is if we can think about influence in terms of becoming a more influential person, and thinking about influence around our character traits, our values and who we are and how we show up and how we engage with others. So that really is what the framework around influence with scale is all about, and how we can can engage practices and principles to help us to be more influential, not just those influencers. We’ve all had those times when there’s been somebody that that just calls us when they want something, you know, or wants to influence us in that way. We don’t want to be that kind of person. We want to look at influence as the long term game.

Lindsay Recknell  09:07

If I’m hearing you right, influence, being really great at being a good influencer is about building relationships.

Vivian Blade  09:15

Absolutely, yes, absolutely. It really starts there as we look at the principles for this whole influence with scale framework. The first principle is social capital. And it is how we invest in building relationships first, without expecting anything in return. We don’t always have opportunities to build long term relationships when we need to influence but sometimes though, the relationships we bought with other people, the just credibility that comes along with how we show up and our intentions and our motives around social capital and investing even when we You haven’t had a longer term engagement or interaction or relationship with someone that comes through in our interactions. And so social capital is that starting point relationships is that starting point?

Lindsay Recknell  10:17

Well, since we started there, let’s hear the rest of the scale framework.

Vivian Blade  10:22

All right. Courage is the second principle in this scale, your influence framework. And sometimes we run into situations where we may be a little bit uncomfortable, or we don’t have the authority. Again, one of those influence tactics is credibility, from the role that you might have, you know, we may not be the primary decision maker in the room, we may be coming with a recommendation for others to buy into. Oftentimes, in that case, we can feel a little uncomfortable in that position. So courage says that we’re going to embrace the challenge and really step in to that. And that’s where a lot of this confidence building comes into play, we have to be really self aware. And you will talk more about that as we talk about authenticity. But you know, courage and, and that confidence helps us to embrace and step into the challenge rather than retreat from it when sometimes things are going to be difficult for us. And we know, especially as human resources professionals, where we’re often coming into and working with challenging situations that are very uncomfortable. So we really have to lean into that. Authenticity is the third principle. And I have a whole program around authentic influence, because it really is so important for us to be going back to that self aware comment that I made a minute ago, self aware of who we are and what is important for us. Because if we’re going to be influential, we have to come with our authentic selves. Now, there is a level of professionalism, you know, we can’t always show up in our raw form, you know, in authenticity, but we also have to be aware of what that is for us, what’s important for us how that connects to the values and principals of the organizations that we’re working with, and the people that we’re working with. So that becomes critically important for us and authenticity. And my my action item for people there is to make sure that you’re adaptable, not artificial. Yes, the fourth principle is leaning in with passion. And here I encourage people to really think about their why a lot of people have been thinking about their why in this pandemic, and leaving leaving their jobs, taking on new positions, looking for organizations and roles that really play to their values in life and in work. So what is our why and how can we tap into the why of others. And then the fifth principle is engaging a diverse and inclusive workplace community. Inclusion is so important, we’ve heard so much about that, but how do we really embody that as influencers and and one of the ways we can do that is really to tap into community influence, pull people in share this their space, we don’t have to be the person who’s out front all the time influencing, it’s when we share that and demonstrate the value that we see in the people that we work with, that are in our circles or in or that we can pull into our circles even that helps to spread community influence and makes our influence even all that more powerful. So that’s a quick cliff notes version overview of the scale with influence principles.

Lindsay Recknell  14:09

Oh, I love it. There is so much there, you probably saw me looking for my pen to take some notes because I have so many things to ask you about. And I mean, that feels so comprehensive. Clearly people have to come to listen to your talk at the show, or engage you individually to learn more about the more depth of these concepts, but Okay, so I have a couple of questions. How do we connect our influence to our values because you talk you spoke a lot about how our authentic selves kind of guide us and how our behavior you know how how we show up in the workplace, how we show up in our communities. Can you connect influence to our values for me, please?

Vivian Blade  14:52

Yes, absolutely. Influence. If we think about fun and mentally, what that term is It is how we have an impact on people how we come across and, and influence people’s decisions, their behaviors. We’re influencing culture and organizations and change all the time where we’re influencing the productivity and work that’s being done within our teams. So in order to do that, we have to truly be mindful of who we are, what we represent, and how we want to be leaders have, we want to be known as leaders, when we check in on our values, that helps us to show up with greater authenticity. And people expect that that they demand authenticity in this day and time and transparency and trust, and who truly want to build trust, to check in on our authenticity, and therefore the foundation of our values that allow us to show up in a more authentic way, then that helps us to be greater, have greater influence be more influential. There’s a exercise that I do with with people in my workshops, I have them to check in on on their values and also have a resource a tool that is a value sort. Where are we there are so many things that are important, we look at this whole list of nearly 100 values that we can choose from so many are important for us. But which ones are most important to us and drive our decisions, our behaviors, our thoughts, our relationships, each and every day. So that’s why really values is so important for influence and how we can connect the two.

Lindsay Recknell  16:58

So beautiful. I have. So since I’ve been doing this podcast, this mental health for leaders, podcast values comes up a lot. And I think it I don’t know, for me, especially value identification sometimes feels hard. I mean, you mentioned there’s 100 100 words 100 values on this list. And how is a person meant to prioritize those and something I heard one day is to ask trusted colleagues, family members, whomever, what they think your values are, because that alignment with your behavior, and what you say your values are, I think is really cool to look at, like how big is that gap? Do the values I think I have or my stated values? Am I actually modeling that behavior out loud? Is that something that is that anything that comes up in some of your workshops about kind of value misalignment? And how to bring it closer together?

Vivian Blade  17:55

Yeah, and you know, it’s a lot of the, especially when we are in leadership roles or human resources, roles, we’re, we’re, we’re talking the talk, oftentimes, people are checking in on are you walking the walk? You know, what are you saying? And is there alignment there? So yes, that is definitely something that comes up something that people are looking for?

Lindsay Recknell  18:20

Well, I’m something that might be scary to even do that self awareness piece, like you mentioned in the in the sea of confidence, you know, sometimes it’s hard to look in ourselves and be real about where we might have development opportunities. And not, as my dad used to say, my not my weaknesses, but my development opportunities.

Vivian Blade  18:43

Yeah, yeah. And, you know, if we are not doing that, as leaders, how can we coach and expect the people who are working with us on our teams each and every day, to be open to the feedback that we give them? You know, and all of this emotional intelligence becomes so important to as a core competency, because we’re always checking in on ourselves, you know, if we’re we’re influencing what we’re doing is an influencing behavior, influencing mindset, influencing, thinking, influencing culture, and our organizations. That is a high responsibility. It is such a responsibility for us. So we really have to be aware of where we are ourselves. And that values comes back into play there in our everyday interactions, are we self aware of our emotions, and we’ve had so many emotions that have shown up for us over the course of this pandemic, especially, and coming out of it. And then how am I impacting other people? What kind of influence Am I having? So emotional intelligence is so closely connected here.

Lindsay Recknell  20:09

The concept of emotional intelligence is I mean, we could have an entire other podcast around emotional intelligence. And actually one of the speakers at this show, Javier Santos, he’s going to talk about something he calls a motional technology. And it relates really well to emotional intelligence as well. And it makes me think of, again, another word, the language of intent. And you mentioned that earlier, in your description of one of the aspects of the scale model. How does? How does intent help to drive our behavior as well, when it comes to influence?

Vivian Blade  20:47

Yeah, I think that goes back to, again, that, that that motive that we have, and a lot of that sets the stage for the social capital. Now, as we begin to engage with people, you know, what’s our motive? What’s, what’s our intention? Here? Is it self serving? Again, sometimes we do need to get people to move. But if we give in our leaning in with passion, are really tapping into our why, and the why of others, we can connect the dots more thoughtfully, and with more with more of that intention, and motivation, and social capital really at the forefront of why we’re attempting to influence. So yeah, I think it goes back a lot to to what’s our motive? And, you know, when we do need people to move, can how can we make sure that it’s also important for them? What’s important for them? And how can I connect that in, and you’ll be more influential in this, with them also saying that there’s, there’s a benefit in the outcome for what I’m trying to influence around. And I am concerned about what that is for you, as much as I am concerned about what that is, for me.

Lindsay Recknell  22:12

If I think about the folks that are listening to this episode, they’re HR professionals, you know, leaders in an organization, and they probably have people above them in the organization that they’re trying to positively influence. And if they are struggling with influencing up the ladder, do you have some specific ideas for them on what they can try? How they can get that closer alignment with maybe some senior executives that they’re trying to bring along to the party?

Vivian Blade  22:47

Yeah, I think a lot of times, senior executives are looking for a couple of things, if they don’t know you will, they’re looking for contribution. And they’re looking for maybe some credibility from other people. So some of those are sort of short term tactics, or things that we look for around around influence. So there are a couple of keys here that are ideal for you. One, is that leaning in with passion, again. Are you connected to the why of the organization is have you given what you may be trying to influence around, you know, if there’s something very specific or specific decision that you’re trying to get an executive to make, or as an HR business partner, trying to establish yourself as a as a partner? Why is this important for them? And how are you contributing to the value of what it is they’re trying to accomplish? And always trying to tap into what’s important for the other person is helpful helpful for us to discover how for for helpful for us to be able to partner around. So I think that that’s one thing and that showing that willingness, that social capital, again, you’re that willingness to invest? I’m not necessarily looking for a direct return only for my benefit, but I’m willing to invest here and give without expecting that, that you know, something in return, though we know good things always come back to us, you know, in life. But I think if we can demonstrate that and really understand what’s important to them and connect to what’s important for them. You know, they know that that we care and we’re we’re invested in benefits external suggests ourselves.

Lindsay Recknell  24:46

I couldn’t agree with you more. It is never about us in a conversation right? It’s always about the other person and giving some consideration to how they think what’s important to them, how they communicate, what their behavior is saying about their Are values, you know, speaking of, of lining up the walk and the talk, if you know if you’re if you’re thinking about what that executive or that person you want on your side is saying, is that also what they’re displaying in their behavior and in their leadership style? Yes. Newsflash, not about us. It’s a fuzzy person.

Vivian Blade  25:21

Yeah. Yeah. You know, and I think as HR professionals, we’re in positions where, you know, that that’s our sentiment, you know, anyway, because we’re playing a role for the best for the organization also advocates for employees to me at the end of the day, so we often find ourselves in this position. Now, how can we connect the why’s and, and the positive outcomes that could come from our influence and what it is we’re trying to do and to establish in our teams and in our organizations?

Lindsay Recknell  26:02

And so this podcast is all about mental health of leaders. And I feel like we’ve conceptually entered this next question I’m going to ask you, but it’s about using or leveraging the skill of influence, to take care of ourselves and our own mental health? Do you have any suggestions on where we can start? If we’re feeling overwhelmed, or kind of feeling like maybe it’s hopeless? Or oh, I can’t even do this, you know, how can we leverage the the skill of influence to help our own mental health?

Vivian Blade  26:41

Yeah, you know, I think one key there is to think that we don’t have to do it all by ourselves, you know, and that’s where the engaging a diverse and inclusive workplace community and one of the actions that I have for people there is to unleash community influence. So everything is not on your shoulders. Take it off of your shoulders, who else can you tap into? And when you tap into the influence of other people around you? Or just the and not even looking for who’s influential? But where is the talent? Where’s the information? Where are the resources? Where is the data? Who has that? Who can come with, you know, different perspectives and, and inviting those and leaning into that? But how can we invite inclusion and leverage that to help us to be more influential, so that we don’t feel like it’s all on our shoulders, we don’t have to know it all. We don’t have to do it all. The second thing I’m going to borrow is from my resilience ready book and the research and the work that I did there, which is another set of principles for helping us to get through change challenge crises. But perspective setting also is important. You know, how do I see this? Do I see it as glass half full, or glass half empty. And when we just start with a glass half full mindset, then so much more as possible for us, it opens up our minds to more we have more of this growth mindset, which helps us to seek partnership, you know, through those times, and different ways of doing things and solving challenges. So maybe a couple of things, I would say there.

Lindsay Recknell  28:51

That’s awesome. And it aligns really nicely to what we were talking about a few minutes ago on, it’s not about you. And so if you’re trying to influence others, in a positive way, leveraging the influence of your community, the experiences, the perceptions that come from those fine folks as well, that you may or may not have, or may or may not consciously be aware of, that’s going to be hugely beneficial to you as well, that’s going to only grow your influence and then help you to have that positive impact that you’re looking to have on your organization, on your team on your boss, whomever it is, to really to be able to, you know, to really use that skill in a really strong way.

Vivian Blade  29:33

Yes, I agree. Agree. Now, one of my mantras is influence is more about how you live than what you do. So going back to that now how I engage my values, my principles. Who am I showing up authentically, how I live more than the tactic that I just choose at a time when I need to end influence someone or persuade someone? So influence is more about how you live and what you do.

Lindsay Recknell  30:07

That is so powerful Vivian so powerful. How can we learn more about you tell us more about your books, where can we get them?

Vivian Blade  30:17

Influence and talent development as well as resilience ready, the Leaders Guide to thriving through unrelenting crises. The companion workbook for that fuel forward, discover proven practices to fuel your career forward, are all on Amazon. My website has information, Vivian blade.com. And there are a number of resources that are available to you at influence with scale.com as well as resilience ready dot today. So tons of resources to help you on your journey of becoming more influential and building your confidence and your credibility around that influence. And to be resilient leaders and to build the skill set around resilient adaptability, as we are in this just constantly evolving, invoke volatile time that we’re in now, that never seems to end, never seems to in constant change.

Lindsay Recknell  31:23

Absolutely link to all of those places, your Amazon links, your website, all of that in the show notes. So anybody who’s listening has a really easy time to get a hold of, of all of those excellent resources. Is there some final parting wisdom you’d like to leave the audience with today?

Vivian Blade  31:40

No, I would just encourage you, you are influential, we all have it inside of us. And it’s really embodying these principles that I talked about. Now, we want to be as HR professionals, solid business partners, be invited to the table and to be sought after to be looked at as true partners that requires influence. So we can develop that influence that we need to play that very important role that we have in our organizations and to be seen that way. So let’s think about influence as how we live and less about just what we do, and the times that we need to to persuade someone or have influence

Lindsay Recknell  32:30

that feels so hopeful. And as a mental health skill that we just weren’t taught. It’s brilliant. I mean, it feels achievable. It feels like such a cool opportunity. And Vivian, you had so many great tactics and ideas for us to mull around. Thank you so so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on the show.

Vivian Blade  32:51

Great. Thanks for having me so much, Lindsay. It’s been fun.

Lindsay Recknell  32:55

I can’t even wait to see you in real life in a couple of weeks at the conference in June. So looking forward to that.

Vivian Blade  33:00

Likewise, I’ll see you there. Sounds great.

Lindsay Recknell  33:04

Take care.

Lindsay Recknell  33:05

Thanks for joining me for another awesome episode of the mental health for leaders podcast. To make sure you don’t miss any future episodes, please go to https://mentalhealthforleaders.com and subscribe to have these episodes delivered right to your inbox each week. You’ll also find all the show notes, links and resources that my guest mentioned on the show and the link to the Guide to Influence and Impact at Work freebie I mentioned at the beginning of this episode.  You’re listening to this podcast because you know our people need us more than ever. But being a people leader and an HR professional is especially hard right now. If the thought of figuring out how to best support your people and yourself feels overwhelming and impossibly hard. Let’s talk. I don’t promise I can make it easy, but I can make it simple. So let’s do that together. Go to https://mentalhealthforleaders.com and download the Guide to Influence and Impact at Work now. Until next time, take good care. And as always, call me if you need me.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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