The tradecraft guide to mastering the art of indirect influence; shaping outcomes from behind the scenes as a team leader or otherwise situational manipulator.

In the clandestine work of intelligence and covert operations, operatives often find themselves in situations where direct influence is either impossible or counterproductive.

Instead, they rely on a sophisticated set of skills and methodologies to shape outcomes and influence decisions from behind the scenes. This tradecraft, while rooted in espionage, has significant applications in leadership, management, and tactical dynamics in various professional and personal settings.

Understanding the Landscape:

Before any attempt at indirect influence, it is critical to have a comprehensive understanding of the environment and the people involved. Operatives invest time in gathering intelligence – not just the hard data, but also the nuances of interpersonal dynamics, motivations, and cultural factors that drive decision-making. This requires keen observation, active listening, and the ability to interpret both verbal and non-verbal cues.


In a professional setting, this translates to understanding your team’s strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates each member. In leadership, it’s about knowing your stakeholders, their interests, and their decision-making processes.

Building Networks and Alliances:

Operatives rarely act alone. They understand the power of networks and alliances. By cultivating relationships built on trust and mutual benefit, they create a web of influence that can be leveraged when needed. These relationships are often nurtured over time, requiring patience, empathy, and genuine interest in others.


In business or community leadership, building a network of allies can significantly amplify your influence. This means investing in relationships not only vertically, within your chain of command, but also horizontally, across departments or sectors.

The Art of Indirect Influence in Afghanistan | RDCTD Covert Operative Tradecraft

The Art of Persuasion:

Indirect influence often involves persuading others to act in a way that aligns with your objectives. This requires an operative to be adept at the art of persuasion, which often involves framing arguments in a way that appeals to others’ interests, using storytelling to create emotional connections, and presenting ideas in a manner that resonates with the audience’s values and beliefs.


In management, this could mean presenting a business proposal in a way that aligns with your superior’s values or the company’s vision. In negotiation, it could involve framing the benefits of an agreement in terms that appeal to the other party’s interests.

Strategic Communication:

Operatives are trained in the use of strategic communication, which involves not just what is said, but how, when, and to whom it is conveyed. Timing can be as crucial as the message itself. This also includes understanding when not to speak and allowing others to arrive at conclusions that further your objectives.


In leadership roles, effective communication is key. This means not only conveying your vision and instructions clearly but also knowing when to listen, when to delegate, and how to empower others to contribute their ideas.

Adaptability and Resilience

The realm of indirect influence is unpredictable. Operatives are trained to be adaptable, to think on their feet, and to be resilient in the face of setbacks. They understand that not every attempt at influence will be successful and are prepared to adjust their strategies accordingly.


In any leadership or managerial role, adaptability is crucial. The ability to pivot strategies in response to new information or changing circumstances is a mark of a strong leader.

The art of indirect influence, as practiced by covert operatives, is a powerful tool in shaping outcomes and guiding decisions. By understanding the environment, building strategic relationships, mastering the art of persuasion, communicating effectively, and remaining adaptable, leaders and managers can wield this tradecraft effectively in their professional and personal lives.

[INTEL : Covert Manipulative Tactics]

[OPTICS : Undisclosed, Afghanistan]