My typical tactics for influencing leaders at different levels

Jason Yip
3 min readJan 31

Originally presented at Agile Lean Ireland.

Leaders at different levels have distinct goals and context, therefore the tactics you use to influence leaders at different levels should also be distinct.

NOTE: specific organisations and situations will vary

Levels of leaders

  1. L1: Leaders of teams or individuals;
  2. L2: Leaders of leaders;
  3. L3: Leaders of leaders of leaders;
  4. L4 and so on
Picture showing different levels of leaders. L1: Leaders of teams / individuals; L2: Leader of leaders; L3: Leader of leaders of leaders; L4: Leader of leaders of leaders of leaders. I haven’t interacted enough with L4+ leaders to have a strong opinion about what’s effective.
Different levels of leaders

I’ve seen these levels operate as leadership teams as well as individual leaders. I have limited experience at the L4+ level so I won’t discuss any specific tactics there.

Influence L1 leaders by helping them learn how to be more effective leaders

Typically, L1 leaders spend their time:

  • Growing individuals and teams;
  • Hiring and firing;
  • Facilitating delivery;
  • Being the first point of contact for issues (escalation, questions, change management, etc.)

This suggests that typical L1 leader concerns include:

  • Being effective at listening, asking questions, providing feedback;
  • Dealing with strong emotions and high stakes;
  • In cases where they used to be an individual contributor, overcoming the “I could do it faster myself” instinct;
  • Know what to say to various stakeholders

This suggests the primary approach for influencing L1 leaders is to help them learn how to be a more effective leader:

Influence L2 leaders by helping them align a bunch of teams toward a shared purpose

Jason Yip

Senior Manager Product Engineering at Grainger. Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl