Case study

Influencing up


An exceptionally able group of economists in a Government department were finding it hard to relate to and influence the decision-makers (ie senior politicians). The economists were masters of their subject, but reserved and intimidated by authority. They were uncertain how to operate within the formal hierarchies or to grasp fleeting opportunities for interaction. Their communication skills lagged behind their intellectual powers, limiting their impact and that of their work.

As well as damaging their morale (what was the point of doing the work if it had no influence?), this posed the risk that the department’s policies would be insufficiently grounded in objective fact and impartial analysis. The potential damage to the Government and the public was severe and the potential cost penalties huge. 


VOX was called in to run a practical skills-development course for the economists. It covered:

  • Understanding status, interpersonal dynamics and power structures
  • Speaking with confidence and clarity so that others want to listen
  • Achieving ‘presence’, both physically and vocally
  • Increasing personal impact and influence
  • Establishing rapport and winning trust
  • Asserting oneself constructively
  • Refining one’s personal communication style
  • Finding the courage to embrace new behaviours

The coach created a relaxed, supportive atmosphere in which participants felt ‘safe’ to identify situations they found challenging and to practise new skills. The course included diagnosis of individuals’ communication styles and opportunities for personal coaching and rehearsal.

All the participants were given free access to the online VOX Academy (as is standard practice with VOX) so they could follow up and extend their learning in their own time.  


The course equipped the participants with face-to-face communication skills to match their academic expertise. It turned them into more confident communicators with greater personal authority - good listeners to whom others listen. The coaching encouraged and enabled independent thinking and action. The economists became more confident in their own style and more willing to express themselves with passion and take (prudent) risks. The course helped establish a more positive workplace culture - one built on high-quality personal interaction and improved levels of mutual understanding.