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How to Build Impact and Influence Quietly

smiling headshot of Alison O'Leary in green shirt

Recently, I worked with a client who wanted to build her impact and personal brand.

Despite years consistently delivering in her various roles, Anna felt unseen, unheard, and she doubted her ability to influence decision-makers.

In her own words, she was “a quiet do-er”.

She told me her introverted nature was holding her back, and her assumption was: “I’ve got to get comfortable shouting about my achievements and being a louder voice in the room.”

Now, if you know me, you know I’m not about changing people’s natures and showing them how to contort themselves to fit.

Because frankly, that doesn’t work and it feels awful!

So instead, I asked her this question:

To what extent are you investing in relationships that encourage and amplify your brilliance?

Who do you have in your corner supporting you, singing your praises and pushing you to grow?

The point here was to focus on ways Anna might strengthen her confidence, visibility and influence through others, without the need for her to be super vocal herself.

This question made Anna think, and it brought her to two realisations:

1. She could be doing more to build and maximise the impact of her “support providers”, professionally and personally.

2. She wasn’t surrounding herself with enough of the right people.

Using these insights, we explored the areas where Anna could make positive changes.

This saw her:

·         Deploy a new communications approach with her line manager and her boss, so that they always knew what she was doing and delivering - without the need for any bragging or grandstanding.

·         Identify and ask two senior people she admired to be her mentors, both of whom agreed, and both of whom were fairly introverted people themselves, suiting Anna’s natural style.

·         Map out the types of people and forums that might support and inspire her growth, personally and professionally, which led her to sign up to two mini courses, and a reading group. 

These steps started to make Anna visible to the people that mattered and increased her support network, while stretching her potential and building her self-belief.

At the same time, Anna took measures to remove negative influences:

·         She reduced the time she spent with certain family members who had a habit of criticising her.

·         She avoided spending social time with colleagues who always focused on what was wrong and looked for any opportunity to moan.

·         And she distanced herself from two “friends” who took pleasure in making her quiet, studious approach the butt of their jokes.

All these moves had an interesting effect.

Within a couple of months Anna started getting unprompted feedback from senior leaders that she was doing a great job.

A month after that she was asked for her opinion on a strategic business decision, which she excitedly told me: “Was not only listened to, but actually implemented!”

And gradually, colleagues started coming to her for advice and help, openly telling her that they coveted her expertise and wanted to learn from her.

The upshot?

Anna achieved her goal of up levelling her impact and personal brand, but in a way that honoured her natural style and personality, rather than fighting it.

If Anna’s story resonates with you, I highly recommend you ask yourself this same question:

To what extent are you investing in relationships that encourage and amplify your brilliance?

Because the more you do in this area, the more likely it is that you’ll increase your confidence, visibility and influence, but in a way that works for you :)

Alison x


If you, or an aspiring or senior leader in your business, would like help building your presence, impact and personal brand, contact Souha Khairallah, Talent and Professional Development Director, PRCA at, and ask for a no-strings strengths consultation call with me.

I deliver structured coaching programmes, with practical strategies, tools and techniques that are tailored to the individual, to help them up-level their impact and realise their true potential.

About the author

Alison O’Leary is a certified life coach, specialised in career coaching through her practice, Live True. In a 19-year career she has held a number of senior management positions within the PR industry, most recently as Deputy Managing Director, Europe for Racepoint Global. Alison specialises in people development and combines insights, tools and methodologies from corporate and personal coaching work to help PR professionals realise their true career potential for personal and organisational benefit. She partners with the PRCA to provide bespoke Senior Leader Coaching. For more information contact