Manipulation vs. Influence, What’s The Difference?

Hi meaningful leader,

The same skillset is required for both, but the motivations behind each, differ greatly.

As leaders, we are calling others to follow us and that requires a certain level of moral authority. The job of a leader is to inspire other into taking action.

With this in mind, the difference between manipulation and influence boils down to the outcome’s purpose. As leaders, we must build a shared vision of the future, in order to create influence.

Manipulation is based on the desired of achieving certain outcome that benefit us, by using others into doing what we want, and in some cases, regardless of the consequences. Manipulators are inherently relentless and deceptive. In this scenario, some of the following techniques can be applied:

  • Force
  • Peer pressure
  • Charm
  • Pleading
  • Coercion
  • Fearmongering
  • Power

“The driving force in society is not love, but fear”

John Broaddus watson

Manipulators lack transparency and use their power, position or knowledge to make others do what benefits them. Manipulators don’t care about the well-being of the manipulee, they only care about what’s in it for them. Manipulators always have a hidden agenda and motives.

With the increasing amount of “influencers” popping everywhere on social media, the concept of what influence truly is, can get muddled.

To bring some light to it, when applying influence, our goal is to drive an outcome that benefits the common good. Leadership is based on action, not position. Often I hear people in leadership roles make statements along the lines of “there’s a leadership style for every situation” or that “one should adjust their leadership based on the company or team they are currently working for”. Sorry to break it to you, but if you think along these lines, you’re far from being a leader. The core values that make a leader one, are unshakeable.

Leadership is the willingness and conviction to serve others and bring value to them. True leaders identify others needs and put them ahead of their own. As leaders, our goal is to engage those entrusted to us to take action because they are both extrinsically and intrinsically motivated to do so.

Extrinsic motivation can be a more stable job environment, better results and efficiency on a task or learning a new skill that can boost our income potential. Intrinsic motivation can be linked to personal growth, more freedom and autonomy or even learning and mastering a new skill.

Whichever the motivators, the outcome’s goal benefits everyone. For true leaders, transparency is the currency used for communication, trust is built and authentic relationships are established. These are paramount, because we will follow those whom we know, like and trust. Conversely, when we use manipulation, we create a toxicity that destroys any traces of trust we might’ve been able to create, manipulation is selfish.

Thanks for reading and God bless,



One Comment

  • Cool. I spent a long time looking for relevant content and found that your article gave me new ideas, which is very helpful for my research. I think my thesis can be completed more smoothly. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Book




Weekly Golden Nuggets


From how to frame a recent graduate resume for a higher exposure among recruiters to building and leading successful operation

In Your Inbox

subscribe to the blog

A weekly article with insights on topics such as: emotional intelligence, leadership, impostor syndrome, productivity, time management, effective communication techniques and much more


(it's free!)

The Community

the leader’s corner is a Facebook community created for leaders by leaders to have a platform to share ideas, ask questions, and keep each other sharp