Are You Experiencing the Influence Gap?

2 minute read

Over the 13 years that I’ve spent coaching female leaders in the charity sector I’ve noticed that there is one skill which separates the overworked, often overwhelmed and frequently frustrated leaders from the successful leaders that really stand outinfluence. 

Managing upwards and sideways 

Both frustrated and successful leaders are equally talented at their roles. Both groups are great at leading teams and able to bring out the best in people.  

However when it comes to managing upwards and sideways the frustrated leaders never really seem to make any progress.  

Some of them hit a brick wall with either their line manager or a senior decision maker, which means that they struggle to get their team the resources, the respect and the information that they need to succeed. Others spend hours dealing with tensions between their team and other teams and wonder why the value of their work isn’t fully recognised. 

Perhaps that resonates with you? 

bridging the influence gap - two women

The Influence Gap 

I call this the “Influence Gap”. No matter how good you are at your job and how well you manage a team it is almost impossible to succeed as a leader without the ability to influence upwards and sideways. Can you think of any leader you admire that hasn’t mastered influencing?  

When you know how to influence others effectively so many things become possible: 

  • Tensions between departments get resolved  
  • Previously challenging colleagues are on your side  
  • CEOs and board members start listening to what you have to say and even actively asking for your input on decisions  
  • You can clear the way for your team to be able to deliver at a high level without obstacles 
  • Your potential within the organisation is recognised 

Influencing is a leadership superpower and it is one that all successful leaders have mastered. And yet we are rarely taught how to influence and when we are, it is generally in terms of influencing donors, not senior colleagues.  


My experience 

A couple of years ago I recognised that a lot of the female leaders who came to me for coaching were experiencing the influence gap. And whilst from the outside they looked calm and confident, internally they were also experiencing high levels of worry and frequent imposter syndrome, which were negatively impacting their wellbeing. 

So I created the Influence & Impact® group coaching programme for female leaders who want to become brilliant at influencing, tackling self doubt and making more of an impact at work.  

why feedback is essential

The programme 

I run cohorts in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising specifically for women in fundraising management and leadership. In six group coaching sessions we cover:  

  • Strengthening your inner leader so that you can tackle self-doubt and build your confidence 
  • Increasing your impact so you can confidently take up space in a room and have more of a voice 
  • Influencing for success so that you speak the language of senior stakeholders 

But more than that, it brings together a group of driven, conscientious female leaders and gives them a chance to mentor, support and learn from each other.  

“I thought most leaders in the sector were more confident than me. Now I realise I am not alone and many talented, successful women struggle with the same feelings of Imposter Syndrome I do! Through this course I am learning how to become the leader I want to be and how to stop worrying and love my job!” 

Lucy Sandford, UNICEF

Book now for the Influence & Impact in partnership coaching programme 

The third cohort of Influence & Impact in partnership with the CIoF begins in May. Find out more and book your place here.  

Carla Miller

Carla Miller has been coaching fundraising leaders for the past 12 years and is the author of “Leading Successful Fundraising Teams”. Her background includes leading fundraising teams at charities including Samaritans, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity, School-Home Support before becoming CEO of Tiny Tickers and then Managing Director of Charity People.

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