Boss Lady

3 skills you need to advance your career and influence people


Some people say to advance your career and increase your influence, you need a vast range of technical skills. While that may be true, it overlooks critical people skills. It’s you and the people you work with who have the greatest impact on your career success, so it makes sense to polish your influencing skills.

The people who get ahead are those who take control of their futures by sharpening three essential skills: self-awareness, empathy and persuasion – the foundations of emotional intelligence. Whether you work in a traditional workplace or work remotely, the skills are the same.


Knowing yourself is the first step in building a solid career because it’s the foundation for success. You can’t develop self-control, empathy, team, or leadership skills unless you’re aware of how your thoughts and feelings affect you.

There has been a lot of research done on self-awareness. A 2020 report showed that self-awareness helps you better identify obstacles in your path so you can manage them to reach your career goals. We also know it leads to greater job satisfaction and better work performance.

Despite understanding the importance of self-awareness, Tasha Eurich, organisational psychologist, says, “Even though most people believe they are self-aware, only 10-15% of the people we studied actually fit the criteria.” She also says, “Working on your self-awareness will put you ahead of 80 percent of your colleagues. It is the secret ingredient.”

If you want to perform better and bring yourself to positive notice, you need to understand what drives you, what matters to you, your strengths, and weaknesses. Then you can seek opportunities you need to improve your skills and advance your career. Whether you’re in the office or working remotely, it’s up to you to ask for new opportunities to develop or to shine.


The World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020 shows that people skills, including empathy, are today’s in-demand skills. Empathy is the art of recognising and appropriately responding to the emotions of others. It’s more than just seeing emotions. It’s understanding why the emotion is there. When you understand what people are feeling and why, you can find common ground to build from.

If you’re working remotely, you can be out of sight, out of mind, so you’ll need to make yourself noticed. Building relationships – networking – is a great way to start. Empathy is your biggest asset. Think beyond relationships with your seniors. Strengthen your connection with your colleagues. Your manager will soon spot your relationship skills. And think about your clients. You might be geographically separated, but they still need you. Building relationships with them right now is crucial to keeping them in the long term. Practice your empathy skills, and you’ll find a conversational opening with every person you meet.

Empathy is the basis of influence. You can’t influence someone if you don’t know where they’re coming from. With empathy, you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You see their perspective and discover how to influence their thinking. But remember that the basis of empathy and influence is a genuine concern for others and creating a win-win outcome.


People don’t operate purely on logic. We’re emotional. That’s why persuasion is one of the top five most in-demand skills for 2020. It taps into both logic and emotion.

If you want to persuade others and influence them, they need to be part of the process. That’s how they’ll become logically and emotionally committed to the outcome. Persuasion isn’t telling someone what to do. It’s guiding their thoughts to a mutually beneficial outcome.

Through empathy, look for shared experiences or values. Ask what is important to them? What do they want? How can you achieve your goal in a way that helps them?

For example, asking your manager straight out for a promotion is unlikely to work. But if you can understand their goals and how you can help meet them, you have a great starting place for your conversation. When you find that space, you can explore the person’s perspective and identify how to guide them forward. If you’re working remotely, this is a conversation you might need to initiate and actively follow up on. Arrange a regular virtual meeting with your manager to keep yourself up-to-date and share your successes. This is excellent groundwork for your conversation.

Self-awareness, empathy, and persuasion are the key skills you need to polish. They sound simple but are immensely powerful. If you can enhance these skills, you have a tremendous advantage in planning and succeeding in your career.

About Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished CEO and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience based to achieve rapid development and growth. For more information on Caroline’s work visit

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