Summary and Info
This is one of the volumes in the "Ideas with Impact" series, each of whose articles originally appeared in an issue of the Harvard Business Review. In this instance, in issues from May/June 1998 to February 2005; their subject is the Persuasive Leader. As the editors correctly point out, "Companies are moving from traditional command-and-control hierarchies to flatter management styles at a rapid pace. To work effectively in these organizations, you need to excel at persuading others - including those over whom you have no formal authority. [In this volume] you'll discover techniques to hone your persuasive powers and get people to give their best every time." All of the eight articles were written or co-authored by experts on this specific business subject. Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmers Market at which several of the merchants offer a slice of fresh fruit as a sample of their wares. In that spirit, I now offer a sequence of brief excerpts that will, I hope, indicate the "taste" as well as the thrust of the ideas in the articles.
From "The Necessary Art of Persuasion": "Effective persuasion involves four distinct and essential steps. First, effective persuaders establish credibility. Second, they frame their goals in a way that identifies common ground with those they intend to persuade. Third, they reinforce their positions using vivid language and compelling evidence. And fourth, they connect emotionally with their audience. As one of the most effective executives in our research commented, `The most valuable lesson I've learned about persuasion over the years is that there's just as much strategy in how you present your position as in the position itself. In fact, I'd say the strategy of presentation is the more critical.'" Jay A. Conger
From "Harnessing the Science of Persuasion": "The other point I wish to emphasize is that the rules of ethics apply to the science of social influence just as they do to other technology. Not only is it ethically wrong to trick or trap tigers into assent, it's ill-advised in practical terms. Dishonest or high-pressure tactics work only in the shot run, if at all. Their long-term effects are malignant, especially within an organization, which can't function properly without a bedrock of trust and cooperation." Robert B. Cialdini
From "Change the Way You Persuade": "Charismatics (25% of all the executives we interviewed) are easily enthralled by new ideas. They can absorb large amounts of information rapidly, and they tend to process the world visually...Thinkers (11%) are the most difficult decision makers to understand and consequently the toughest to persuade...Skeptics (19%) are highly suspicious of every single data point, especially any information that challenges their world view...Followers (36%) make decisions on how they've made similar choices in the past or on how other trusted executives have made them...Controllers (9%) abhor uncertainty and ambiguity, and they will focus on the pure facts and analytics of an argument. They are both constrained and driven by their own fears and insecurities. To be sure, decision making is a complicated, multifaceted process that researchers may never fully unpick. That said, we strongly believe that executives tend to make important decisions in predictable ways. And knowing their preferences fir hearing or seeing types of information at specific stages in their decision-making process can substantially improve your ability to tip the outcome your way." Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller
From "Radical Change, the Quiet Way": "Tempered radicals bear no banners; they sound no trumpets. Their ends are sweeping, but their means are mundane. They are firm in their commitments, yet flexible in the ways they fulfill them. Their actions may be small but can spread like a virus. They yearn for rapid change but trust in patience. They often work individually yet pull people together. Instead of stridently pressing their agendas, they start conversations. Rather than battling powerful foes, they seek powerful friends. And in the face of setbacks, they keep going. To do all this, tempered radicals understand revolutionary change for what it is - a phenomenon that can occur suddenly but more often than not requires time, commitment, and the patience to endure." Debra E. Myerson
From "Why People Follow the Leader: The Power of Transference": "At its best, transference is the emotional glue that binds people to a leader. Employees in the grip of positive transference see their leader as better than she really is - smarter, nicer, more charismatic. They tend to give that person the benefit of the doubt and take on more risk at her request than they otherwise would...But without a strong grounding in reality, leaders can very easily come undone by their followers' positive transferential projections. At the extreme, such followers will create a myth that bears no relation to fact." Michael Maccoby
From "What You Don't Know About Making Decisions": "Is there any way to find out whether you're on the right track?...The trick, we believe, is to periodically assess the decision-making process, even as it is under way. Scholars now have considerable evidence showing that a small set of process traits is closely linked with superior outcomes. While they are no guarantee of success, their combined presence sharply improves the odds that you'll make a good decision." David A. Garvin and Michael A. Roberto list and briefly discuss them on Pages 161-164.
From "Change Through Persuasion": "Like a political campaign, a persuasion campaign is largely one of differentiation from the past. To the typical change-adverse employee, all restructuring plans look alike. The trick for turnaround leaders is to show employees precisely how their plans differ from their predecessors'. They must convince people that the organization is truly on its deathbed - or, at the very least, that radical changes are required if it is to survive and thrive. (This is a particularly difficult challenge when years of persistent problems have been accompanied by few changes in the status quo.) Turnaround leaders must also gain trust by demonstrating through word and deed that they are the right leaders for the job and must convince employees that theirs is the correct plan to moving forward." David A. Garvin and Michael A. Roberto
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, two books co-authored by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler (Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High and Crucial Confrontations: Tools for talking about broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior), Marshall Goldsmith's What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful, Dean R. Spitzer's Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success, and Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.
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Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a general management magazine published by Harvard Business Publishing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard University.
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