Leadership Development - Essentials of Persuasion

Posted by Gail Daniels on Fri, Aug 10, 2012 @ 03:23 PM


Persuasion is an essential leadership development skill for new managers.  Pushing, shoving, or intimidating others to make and act on decisions are ineffective approaches that are simply not tolerated by today's workforce.  Develop your ability to persuade others by incorporating the following strategies into your conversations:


1.  Clearly State the Issue:  

Foget all the dancing around: If you want your Supervisor to hold weekly meetings with the shop workers, name it.  Clearly describe your position and the advantages you see in adopting the new behavior or attitude.  


2.  Consider the Emotional Value of the Issue:

Listening without judgment can go a long way to helping you understand what's at stake in shifting the other person's attitude, beliefs or values towards a particular subject or objective. Invest time in listening carefully to understand the emotional attachment the other person has to their position.    

Know that people need a compelling reason to shift their position.  The most effective way to present reasons for change is to us a narrative approach that capitalizizes on both the emotional and imaginative impact of the message.  For example, sharing your own experience or inviting the other person to consider a desired future state, opens the possibility for consideration of an alternate position while keeping their dignity in tact.  


3.  Seek Satisfying Solutions:

Most often, persuasion requires both parties to compromise their positions, at least in the initial phases of the shift.  It begins with a process of identifying shared benefits through the use of thoughtful questions.  Explore a variety to options by using open-ended questions; questions that start with 'what' and 'how'.  Then, work together to identify the options that will likely have the greatest positive impact on the issue. Consider the barriers to success for each of those options; the obstacles that need to be overcome to implement the plan.  

If, for example, the Supervisor believes that holding weekly meetings will have a negative impact on production results, consider the option of holding bi-weekly "stand-up" meetings on a trial basis.  Agreeing on the best approach to address the issue on a short-term basis represents a compromise for both parties. Furthermore, your willingness to use a graduated approach will build trust and establish credibility.  


4.  Build in Accountability

Supporting others in clearly articulating their plan for addressing the issue builds accountabilty.  Nobody likes being told what to do.  Effective persuasion includes giving the other person the opportunity to think through their options.  When they clearly articulate their strategies for addressing the issue, they are naturally more committed to following through on their plans.  

Clearly articulated plans include identifying 'who is responsible for what and by when'. Before you end the meeting, agree upon a reasonable time frame to implement the strategies and schedule a follow up conversation to evaluate progress.  When reviewing outcomes, ensure evaluative statements are backed up.  When asked respectfully, probing questions that challenge assumptions will often support others in shifting their positions. For example, if the Supervisor continues to be strongly opposed to having regular meetings with shop workers, you can create uncertainty about this position by asking, "What evidence do you have that the shop workers are resistant to these meetings?" or "What's one thing you can do to get the shop workers to see the benefit of attending these meetings?"


Your credibility as a leaders is an essential foundation of persuasion.  Credibility grows when leaders are able to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise within the context of strong working relationships.  Keeping your emotions in check, especially when you feel strongly of the need for others to adopt your position, will help you steer away from pushing, shoving or intimidating others.


What are your challenges in persuading others?  Which of the above strategies will you implement this week.  Share your successes and challenges by subscribing to the blog.

About Gail Daniels

Gail is accomplished at supporting organizations by providing the right set of planning tools and best practice processes to develop, map, document and follow through to execution of the Strategic Direction, Priorities and Actions. She is passionate about supporting and developing leaders to confidently lead people to inspired performance and results. Gail holds a MA Counselling Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University. Gail is an avid learner who actively explores the relevance of neuroscience and emotional intelligence in leadership.

Tags: Leadership Development