The Influence Model

How the social influence model is different from psychological manipulation? Dig out the influence model with its 5 dimensions: Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy, Social and Organizational Reinforcement!

Influence model versus manipulation: what is the difference ?

First, let’s clarify the difference between influence, also called social influence and manipulation, named as well as psychological manipulation. There are 2 main differences:

  • Manipulation is for the benefits of the manipulator. Those benefits may be known or hidden. In influence, by definition, it is neutral. As we use the word influence here, it is for the benefits of the person who is influenced and those benefits are known.
  • Then, manipulation also implies either by the levers or the outcomes a negative impact on the person being manipulated. On the contrary, influence as we use the word here, is respectful of the person and has known benefits for the person. Usually, it has additional benefits for the team and the organization but this is does not conflict.

For a clean transformation environment, prerequisites of influence are that:

  • The objectives and related benefits for the transformee and the organization are known so there is no hidden agenda.
  • The support for the transformation is an opportunity, no a fate and the transformee agrees to it.

Social influence is a key competence for change management.

Influence model: inspired from Dan Pink’s motivation factors and the influence model as described in the book Influencer

This influence model has 5 dimensions: Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy, Social and Organizational reinforcements.

For people to change, there is a need for the following conditions:

  • Prerequisite for intrinsic motivation: Purpose, Mastery and Autonomy.
  • Reinforcement mechanisms: Social and Organizational.


As Simon Sinek, says it: start with why:

  • First transformees need to understand the Purpose, the Objective of the transformation and what is in it for them.
  • Then this Purpose must be aligned with the transformees’ Values. They should be convinced about the benefits of this transformation first for them then for the organization.

This understanding and agreement comes with building and sharing of the compelling vision of the transformation. Still using the “Start with why” approach:

  • First, why this transformation ? What are the triggers and the reasons ? What are the expected benefits ?
  • Second, how is this transformation going the be delivered ? What is the transformation journey ?
  • Third, what are the changes that will impact the organization and the transformees ?


Does the transformees have the skills required by this transformation ?

How do we achieve that? This comes with a training of the transformees:

  • Class room training mixing little theory and a lot of interactions and practice,
  • Then, on-the-job training and practice.


People reach their optimal level of motivation when they decide about the way the do their work. Of course there is a need for consistency at the level of the organization and they do not have all the skills to deliver their transformation but they should be part of defining and deploying the change.

How do we achieve that? This comes with the cooperation between the Transformees and people supporting the change:

  • Change Agents bring expertise on the target and change management.
  • The transformees bring their expertise on their work environment and related specificities.

Social reinforcement

Do surrounding people have the skills and motivation to actually apply the same change that is expected from the Transformees ? Transformees will mimic whatever it is consciously or not:

  • Peers
  • Opinion leaders
  • Managers

How do we achieve that? This comes with the transformation being for the whole organization:

  • First, managers as leaders of the transformation have a key responsibility to play here. It is a way to demonstrate their commitment to the transformation.
  • Second, opinion leaders should especially be involved in building and deploying the transformation. In addition to leveraging their expertise, it is a way to make them agree to the transformation as they will be a part of them in it.
  • Third, involve staff too, even if there is always a need to comprise between the number of people involved and the duration of the transformation. At least, communicate by the flow with clear expectations and guidelines.

Organizational reinforcement

Does the organization support the transformation ? How do the following aspects evolve to back the transformation:

  • Business processes and metrics,
  • Management and performance follow up,
  • Organizational structure,
  • Work environment with relevant means especially the information systems.

Consistency is key and align the whole organization with the transformation. Consequence management is also important: all deviations to the objective and the guidelines should trigger actions.

What’s next? Learn more about Change Management and discover Coaching

Do you want to learn more Daniel Pink’s motivation model and the influence model described in the book Influencer? Here are some valuable references

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us from Daniel Pink

Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change from Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

  • The link to a TED conference video on the topic.
  • The link to the book.
  • The website of the author Joseph Grenny.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, from Simon Sinek

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