Did you know that one of the most important ways to deal with others is through influence and persuasion? In today’s organizations, workers show little regard for authority while electronic communication and globalization have further diminished the hierarchy that has existed in business and organizations for decades. Today’s workers often don’t just ask “what should I do?” but “why should I do it?” Because of these changing times, leaders must be able to answer the “why” question in order for productivity to take place. Persuasion is the skill that will help the leader succeed in the 21st century organization by convincing others instead of coercing.
As today’s leader, your organization’s success may depend on your ability to get things done. In order to get things done, leaders must be able to persuade others. In fact, effective leaders must be able to convince others to take action even when there is no formal authority.
Not only must the persuasive leader construct a rational argument, but must also be able to frame the idea with approaches and solutions that appeal to workers. In order to effectively persuade others, leaders must be constantly working on building relationships with those we work and live with. Before trying to persuade others to do something, leaders must know something about the audience before preparing any arguments. One way this can be done is through dialogue and candid conversations. Effective leaders invite people to discuss solutions, debate positions, and offer honest and candid feedback. Leaders must be able to gain the trust of others. Trust is not something that can be demanded or assumed, it must be earned.
In Are You a 10? The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader (2010), I discuss ways to develop Persuasion Skills. The following are three important steps to leading through persuasion.
1. Create transparency and credibility. Persuasion is about being open, honest, and accountable. Credibility is usually developed through expertise and relationships. Listen actively to other people's suggestions. Establish an environment in which candid discussions are encouraged. Be truthful.
2. Create relationships. Speak a little less, listen a little more. Remain positive. Communicate better. Encourage others. A relationship must demonstrate both intellectual and emotional commitment.
3. Build consensus. Structure discussions with vivid language and compelling evidence that originates from strong data. List issues on paper. Listen to the opinions of others. Get conflict out in the open. Recognize and value differing opinions.
One key component to being persuasive is the strength of your relationships with those you work and live with. Successful leaders have the ability to develop relationships that last. In today’s economic environment, we all have to build successful work relationships and interact with people in a positive way in order to achieve our goals.