Skills Employers Need Most

LinkedIn recently came out with their annual list of the most in demand skills according to employers. In order, the top five soft skills were:

  • Management
  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Leadership 
  • Sales

As someone who helps leaders and salespeople, those two skills jumped out at me. What came to mind for both was this; you cannot succeed at either unless you know how to influence people. 


Leadership is a critical skill for creating greater impact. It’s a multiplier, the lever to accomplish great things because a group of people working together will almost always accomplish more than any individual can working alone. 

While there are many aspects to being a great leader, having a vision and a strategy to fulfill the vision top the list. But neither is enough if you can’t motivate people to buy into the vision and execute the strategy. This is where influence comes in.

Being a great leader doesn’t mean you know everything or more than your team members. In fact, those who follow you should know more than you and be better at their jobs. 

My long-time boss, John Petrucci, used to talk about the inverted pyramid. As a leader he was at the bottom, supporting us so we could do our jobs to the best of our abilities. 

Your role as a leader is to help your team accomplish more than they thought possible. That’s why we hear good leaders say, “TEAM means Together Everyone Accomplishes More.”

I’m reminded of something Tom Landry, the late football coach of the Dallas Cowboys, said about his leadership, “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.”  

Leadership is all about influence!


When I talk about sales, I often refer to sales guru Brian Tracy’s definition. No need to reinvent the wheel because Tracy says it perfectly, “Selling is the process of persuading a person that your product or service is of more value to him or her than the price you’re asking.”

Selling starts with a process. It’s not about winging it, the “gift of gab,” or “selling ice to eskimos.” However, it won’t do you any good to have a great process if you don’t know how to persuade. 

Selling is about helping people. When your product or service helps them run a better business, protect their family (insurance), or achieve their goals, you should feel good about what you’re offering. Even that isn’t enough. 

Persuasion is the skill that helps you convey value, helping prospective customers realize how they’ll be better off by doing business with you and your organization. 

Bottom line: persuasion helps you get to yes with prospects at every step in the sales process. 

Influence and Persuasion

In LinkedIn’s 2019 and 2020 surveys of its 700+ million users, influence was the #2 skill employers said was most important for their employees. It’s the bedrock for sales, leadership, and more because it’s critical for professional success.

And know this; the skill of influence goes beyond work. For example, if you’re a parent you’re trying to influence your children every day in a multitude of ways.

Even if you aren’t a parent, you use the skill of influence every day. I often tell audiences, influence is a 24x7x365 skill each of us uses from womb to tomb.

Tune in next week to get a detailed definition of exactly what influence/persuasion is and the challenges you’ll face when you try to influence people.

Brian Ahearn

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, Brian helps clients apply influence in everyday situations to boost results.

As one of only a dozen Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, Brian was personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His follow-up, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller. His latest book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is a business parable designed to teach you how to apply influence concepts at home and the office.

Brian’s LinkedIn courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 500,000 people around the world!

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