John Maxwell famously says, “Leadership is Influence.” Those who can effectively influence others are acting as leaders.
But are all methods of influence appropriate for leaders?
I may influence your decisions by giving you false or misleading information—is that kind of influence ok for leaders?
Connie Dieken says no. At the recent TTISI Convention in Scottsdale, the five-time Emmy award-winning news anchor and Radio/Television Broadcaster’s hall-of-famer presented three possible strategies for getting people to move: Manipulation, Persuasion, and Influence. Backed by her research with thousands of leaders, she claimed that only one was appropriate (and ultimately effective) for leaders: Influence.
Through her research, Connie identified three actions of successful Influencers: Connect, Convey, and Convince. Sounds simple enough, but it’s the twist she puts on each action that creates the most powerful effect.
Influencers Connect with Others
Your ability to Connect with others is based on your empathy and social agility. Empathy is not feeling sorry for someone, it is a measure of how well you can put yourself in other people’s shoes.
Many leaders (and people in sales) look for points of commonality with people they intend to influence. “You were on the swim team in high school? What do you know, I was on the swim team, too!” But real connection goes deeper than shared interests. To form a connection strong enough to influence someone, leaders must connect with their values.
When you connect with my values, I am more willing to open up to you and tell you what is important to me. The openness generated by connection allows leaders to pinpoint the resistance that others may have, because the resistance comes from something important to them.
Influencers Convey Simplicity
What is the number one obstacle to our efforts to share information? Connie calls it the “Weapons of Mass Distraction.” We’ve all noticed how everyone’s attention span is getting shorter. People start tuning out after a few slides, no matter how beautiful your PowerPoint presentation is.
How do leaders overcome the obstacle of distraction?
Connie’s research reveals that Influencers take the complexity out of their communication. Are your messages long and overly detailed? Connie says, “When you confuse, you lose.” A simple, concise approach is more effective for influencing others.
Structurally, effective Influencers frontload the most important information and then highlight key points at the end. Avoid packing the middle of your presentation with essential information where it is more likely to be forgotten.
Influencers Let You Convince Yourself
I used to think that I was really good at convincing or persuading others through my well-crafted arguments and verbal skills. But Connie argues that effective Influencers don’t convince anyone—they lead you to convince yourself.
No one likes the feeling of being manipulated towards a conclusion. We value our freedom of thought. Influencers value other people’s freedom, too. Instead of twisting their arms, leaders tell people the truth and allow them to process.
Connie asserts that people respond best when you level with them. Giving people the facts transfers the ownership of the decision to them. If you have successfully connected with their values, your followers will let you help them walk through the considerations and come to the best conclusions.
Is there a risk here? Of course, people who are free to think may end up choosing something different from what you wanted. That’s the difference between influence and control.
If you want to become a more effective Influencer, consider your current approach to connecting, conveying, and convincing. What small changes could you make to create bigger results?
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