Cover: Influence and Impact by George Bradt, Bill Berman

Praise for Influence and Impact

“Berman and Bradt generously teach the reader how to apply well-tested coaching tools to being more influential and achieve impact at work. While previously available only to a privileged group of executives who can afford an expensive executive coach, these tools are now accessible to all. Working through the book leaves no room for feeling helpless or stuck.”

Konstantin Korotov, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Behavior, ESMT Berlin

“This remarkable book decodes how to lead with maximum impact by harnessing a laser focus on mission-critical business and cultural priorities. An indispensable and highly accessible reference, the coverage is broad, deep, and offers unique career insights and advice for those who are charged with leading others and transforming organizations.”

John C. Scott, Chief Operating Officer, APTMetrics, Inc.

“Berman and Bradt are brilliant. They have decades of helping leaders crack the code on how to have Influence and Impact. How do leaders manage challenging situations? Read this book. No matter who you are you will find nuggets of pure gold that you will be able to put into practice, tomorrow.”

Carol Kauffman, Ph.D., ABPP, Founder, Institute of Coaching, Harvard Medical School

“The most helpful business books start by defining a single fundamental obstacle that is overlooked or misunderstood. In Influence and Impact, that is: Most people don't understand their jobs, and without understanding your job becoming influential and making an impact are difficult at best. Fear not. As eminently qualified professionals and master coaches, Bill Berman and George Bradt have mapped a path to relevance. They invite you to take a deep dive into what your organization is really about. To excel in your career, you need to go deeper than org charts and truly divine your value toward achieving the group's mission…or understand when to walk away if there's too much misalignment. The authors present concise and relatable case studies of this quest. Influence and Impact reads like a boot camp for contributors, managers, and executives who are serious about advancing fulfilling careers.”

Randall P White, Ph.D., Head of Leadership, eMBA, HEC, Paris and Founding Partner Executive Development Group LLC

Influence and Impact

Discover and Excel at What Your Organization Needs From You The Most










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We both owe a debt of gratitude to our colleagues of all types—coaches, human resources leaders, talent leaders, and business leaders. Each one has informed and improved our work. Naming them all would take a new book, but if you read this and think, "Do they mean me?" then the answer is "Yes!" You all have helped us learn and grow every time we worked together.

The hundreds of clients we have had over the past 15 years have taught us so much about human nature, and ourselves. You have given us the trust and respect to let us help you be who you are capable of being.

Our guest contributors have been phenomenal colleagues and allies. Each took time out of very busy lives to stop, read parts of the manuscript, and write their own thoughts to make the book stronger.

We owe endless thanks to our people at John Wiley and Sons. Our publisher, Richard Narramore, his associate, Victoria Anllo, and our editor, Deborah Schindlar, have consistently shown the trust and respect for us that is essential to writing partnerships. You made us much more intelligent and articulate than we really are. If you were make-up artists, we'd probably look like Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Bill Berman:

I have had a number of mentors throughout my career who have supported, helped, advised, cajoled, and cheered me on as I have gone down this long and winding road called a career. Brendan Maher, Sidney Blatt, and Dennis Turk got me into psychology and into the real world. Jeremy Kisch taught me some useful lessons, and John Clarkin and Marv Reznikoff supported and fertilized my intellectual pursuits. Steve Hurt was the best back-office partner that a front-office entrepreneur could have. Joe Braga and John Raden also taught me a lot about being a leader of an organization. John Scott, Kathleen Lundquist, and the team at APTMetrics had the faith and trust in me to start me on my consulting psychology path. My colleagues and friends at PrimeGenesis helped me to understand the complexity of large public companies, and saw the benefit of having both business and psychological perspectives in our work together. My friends at the Society for Consulting Psychology, especially the board members and my study group partners, have taught me what it really means to have an impact on a larger organization. And, for the past 15 years, my co-author, colleague, and friend George has been a never-ending source of encouragement, challenge, and inspiration. I would not be at this point without all of your influences.

To the coaches who work with me at various clients, you have been wonderful partners and colleagues, and allowed me the room to write this book. Kristina Lalas, Lucienne Lunn, and Taylere Markewich have been my recent associates at Berman Leadership, and have made sure that everything I do is on time and of the highest quality, while keeping me focused on what is most important. I also want to express my appreciation to the psychotherapy patients I had the honor to work with before becoming a coach. You taught me about honesty, empathy, insight, forgiveness, and the value of self-awareness.

My wife, Ellen, has been a rock of consistency for me and for the family, providing love and caring, endlessly tolerant of my long work hours and my never-ending stream of projects. My children have been great in spite of what they call my slight case of ADHD: Daniel, Mandy, Jon, and Shane have supported and encouraged me, from reading drafts, to critiquing, to helping me keep my sense of humor and humility. My family of origin has had influence and impact for many decades—Jill, Richard, Kate, Brad and Ruth, and my late father Bill and mother Jean, who passed too soon. And of course, “The New Year's Eve Gang”—I would not be here without you.

George Bradt:

To Meg, who seems to greet every one of my new initiatives—from businesses to books to musical plays and everything in between—with a bemused look of “Oh no. Not again,” and ends up supporting everything I do in a way to which no one else on the planet could begin to come close, and has turned my focus from what I can do myself to how I can influence and impact others—abounding gratitude.

Introduction*: Enhance Your Influence and Impact by Focusing on the Mission-Critical Parts of Your Role and Adapting to the Culture of the Organization

Over the past 30 years, we have seen hundreds of people in our roles as coaches, consultants, line managers, entrepreneurs, and psychologists (Bill) and marketers (George). Many of these competent, capable leaders and professionals do most of their work very well, but still feel they are struggling to get the rewards, recognition, and growth that they are expecting.

Some have been in roles where they feel they are flying, but then things slow down. Others are in jobs where they are overwhelmed, overburdened, under-resourced, time-pressured, and feeling stressed, lonely, and exhausted. Still others feel a general sense of malaise, as though they are stuck in place, and do not look forward to going to work every day. Millions of workers, managers, and executives find themselves in this situation at some point in their career.

In most jobs, you find meaning and value by being able to influence others and have an impact on the organization and its mission. In all of the scenarios above, you likely feel you have lost your ability to influence the people around you. When your capacity to bring others along is diminished, or you are not contributing to your organization's overall success, your job satisfaction and engagement drop, your frustration increases, and your stress level rises.

Why does this happen so often? Sometimes, the reason truly is not under your control. In some cases, your manager is difficult or unsupportive, and is not likely to change. Sometimes, there are structural problems with the job, and there is no way to have influence or impact under the current framework. But this book is not for those situations. For a large majority of people, the struggle to have influence or impact and satisfaction in their work comes, not from external factors, but rather from something that they are able to manage and change.

What has become clear to us, through our work with people from CEOs to first-line managers, and even individual contributors, is that many people are unintentionally misunderstanding critical aspects of their job. When organizations send clients to us for executive coaching or onboarding, we look carefully at how they spend their time, how they think about their job, and how they do that job.

Many times, we find that they are not focused on the essential elements of their job. They may be doing someone else's job unintentionally. They may be trying to do their colleagues’ jobs, either implicitly or by making a premature power grab to take on greater scope or responsibility. Sometimes, they are only doing one part of their job—the part they like, or the part that is most familiar.

Sometimes, when working with leaders, we find they are doing the right things, but in a way that is inconsistent with the style, attitudes, and mores of their organization. In some cases, they are decisive when they need to be collaborative. They are direct and blunt when they need to be tactful and patient.

One client, Ian, worked in a formal banking setting. Everyone wore Zegna suits or St. James knits, but he persisted in wearing casual clothes. This leader was doing the right work, but his style and approach undermined his ability to influence other bankers. He was fortunate to have a senior manager watching out for him. As he gave him a promotion to lead a business unit, he told him, “You are to throw out all your shirts and sweaters, and I'm taking you shopping. You have to look the part I know you can play.”

Some people do this because they believe that their approach has worked in the past, or was appropriate for the last organization they were in. They may feel that their style is core to their identity, and to change it would be to change who they are. Or they may not have thought about their approach at all, doing what comes naturally rather than making a conscious and deliberate effort to act in a way that works within the current context.

To repeat the most important point of this introduction, and this book, people lose their ability to influence others and impact the organization because they are not focused on the most essential, mission-critical business and cultural priorities. They usually do not even know what those are! Often, organizations and managers are not as explicit as they should be about the focus of their employees’ work, the culture of the organization, or their own needs and expectations.

The really great news is that despite these common challenges, you can enhance your influence and impact by focusing on the mission-critical parts of your role (the business) without anyone explicitly telling you what they are. You can be more effective by learning about and adapting to the behaviors, relationships and mores of the organization (the culture)—or you may realize, after reading the first parts of this book, that it's just not a fit and you would flourish more in a different organization.

What is influence? What is impact? How are they different? Influence is the indirect or intangible effect you have on others, based on what you do, how you do it, how you communicate it, and who you are. Impact is the direct and observable effect you have on the entities you deal with—your manager, your team, your organization. We are particularly focused on helping you improve the effect you have on others—your influence—in ways that result in a significant or major effect on your manager, your team, and your organization—your impact.

This is the key to professional success in organizations: Doing the job that is needed, in the way that is needed, consistently and effectively. Managers, leaders, and executives can do this by understanding the essential, but often unwritten or implicit, parts of their job, and the unwritten or implicit aspects of the organizational culture. Developing an enhanced focus, delivered in a manner that is aligned with what their job is invariably results in more influence with other people, and a larger impact on the organization and its mission.

Why You Need This Book

People work for different reasons. For some, it is simply to have enough money to live their life the way they want. For others, it is a passion, something they do to feel fulfilled. But whatever the reason, having influence on others, and an impact on the organization you work for, is going to make you feel good about what you are doing. One of the major sources of job satisfaction is feeling that you make a difference, that you have an effect on the people you work with and the organization you work for. Whether you are looking to climb the corporate ladder, or find gratification in your current job, having influence and impact on others will boost your happiness and gratitude.

We provide a set of steps that will help you understand yourself and your role, and use that understanding to influence your organization: How to know what is needed, deliver that consistently, communicate about all of this effectively. The method is straightforward and draws on our decades of experience as coaches, consultants to executives, and executives ourselves.

Part I explains what you are doing that interferes with your influence and impact, why that is hurting your job satisfaction, and how to resolve it. We help you identify what distracts you, and why. Once you understand the disconnect between what you are doing and what the organization needs, you can commit to making the changes that will allow you to succeed, flourish and be recognized for doing important work—maybe even get a promotion!

This is a significant mindset shift, as well as a behavior change. To be successful, you must acknowledge that your job may not be what you were told it was. It may not be what you thought it would be, or what you want it to be. At the same time, you have to figure out what matters to you about your job. This knowledge will help you focus on what is really critical to success in your job. In addition, you have to learn how to interact, communicate, and work with others in ways that work in your current context.

Part II is designed to help you sort out what your boss, your team, and your organization really need from you, both from a business and a cultural perspective. This is not a solo exercise. You will need to enlist a range of stakeholders, including your manager, your colleagues, and your team, to help you solve this. The methods we recommend are derived from common parts of our executive coaching work, but are focused as much on the broader context than they are on the individual.

We recognize that not all cultures should be adapted to. The history of bias, discrimination, and exclusion in work settings is inescapable. Sometimes the term “cultural fit” can be a cover for conscious or unconscious exclusion practices. This is a special case and requires a thoughtful approach to what's really going on, how you adapt, and how you change things. Dr. Greg Pennington has written the chapter on how to think about and deal with bias and discrimination in the workplace with a calibration, information, demonstration, negotiation, and transformation framework.

When you study your role more deeply, you may realize the problem is easy to fix; or, that your manager is impossible, the job is impossible, or the organization is wrong (at least for you). Once you discover what the underlying expectations are for you (and they are probably unspoken), you then have to ask yourself a very difficult question—do I still want my job? Is this what will make me happy? For some, this will be obvious; for others, this may come as a shock. A number of you will discover, “Wow! That's why I'm struggling. I'm in the wrong job!”

Our experience is that most clients, when they discover how they can have much more impact and influence in their jobs, get really energized. They stop doing stuff they've done for years, try out new skills, make some mistakes, but after a few months realize they are much happier with the new perspective they have on their job.

Part III describes the path you take if you want the job you are in. This section takes you through the nuts and bolts of creating a Personal Strategic Plan to implement critical changes to your priorities, tone, and behavior that you discovered to be misaligned in Part II. This includes not only what you need to do differently, but how to work on it, practice it, and make it a part of how you operate.

Part IV is the path you take if you realize that the real job your organization wants you to do is not what you want or can do. For some people, they really like the organization they work for, but the specific job is a bad fit, or they just can't find a way to work happily with their manager. For others, this process helps them to realize that both the job they are doing and the context in which they work are not acceptable to them. Part IV has guidelines and recommendations for how to work your way out, if you realize you would be happier and more engaged with your work somewhere else.

This book is primarily for you to help yourself; but, if you're a manager, it's also your job to help your people go through this same process, to maximize their influence and impact in the organization. From first-line supervisors to CEOs and Board Chairs, helping direct reports focus on the essential priorities and methods is crucial. We wrote Part V as a primer for managers who want guidance on how to coach others to great influence and impact.

Most people will benefit from Parts I and II. These two sections lay the groundwork for rest of the book. At the end of Part II you are faced with a decision: Are you in the right job, the wrong job at the right company, or the wrong job at the wrong company? Based on your answer from Part II, you can then jump to Part III, if you know you want to make the changes you need to make. If you realize you do not want the job as it really is, or cannot operate the way the organization wants you to, some of Part III and Part IV will be the most helpful. For managers and executives, you may choose to jump all the way to Part V first, which is designed to help you guide your people toward what you and your organization need from them the most.

All of the worksheets and additional materials can be downloaded from


  1. *   We will use the 3rd person plural throughout the book, they/their/theirs, to avoid suggesting any of this applies to any gender status. All of the cases in the book are real, or a synthesis of multiple cases, but have been modified so that we can maintain the confidentiality of our clients.

The Disconnect: What Your Organization Wants You to Know (But Hasn't Told You!)