Friday, November 14, 2008

Back on Track

I have purposely not written for a while as I found that being on the board and writing a blog was in a way creating a little conflict of interest.
I am not in my last month of board service, so I feel better now about "continuing the conversation"
I was recently reading a book I picked up as a compilation of the Harvard Business Review on
"The Persuasive Leader".
It first caught my attention when I noticed the second author was one of my former instructors at Arizona State University back in 1977 or so. His name is Robert Cialdini. He taught Psychology 301 I think and the course was Intro to Social Psychology. I had heard it was a very interesting class and he was a great teacher. Indeed, it was one of my very best classes as I learned many insights into human behavior.
Fast forward to 2008 and Dr Cialdini has become one of the most popular business consultants from the education world as he applies psychology to business management. He speaks of influence or persuasion theory and how it applies to modern business management.
I read the first article, by Jay Conger, who is the Henry R. Kravis Research Chair in Leadership Studies at Claremont-McKenna College in California.
He states our current social climate well as he starts his article with the following:
"If there ever as a time for businesspeople to learn the fine art of persuasion, it is now. gone are the command-and-control days of executives managing by decree. Today businesses are run largely by cross-functional teams of peers and populated by baby boomers and Generation Z offstring, who show little tolerance for unquestioned authority. electronic communications and globalization have further eroded the traditional hierarchy, as ideas and people flow more freely than ever around organizations and as decisions get made closer to the markets. these fundamental changes, more than a decade in the making but now firmly part of the economic (and educational) landscape essentially come down to this: work today gets done in an environment where people don't just ask what should I do? but Why should I do it?
To answer this why question effectively is to persuade"

He then goes on to present the four distinct and essential steps for effective persuasion:
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
Fourth- they connect emotionally with their audience

As one of the most effective executives in their 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 the position itself."

Insightfully, he also shares the results of his many years of research with effective (and many ineffective) managers and shares the


Four Ways Not to Persuade:

1. They attempt to make their case with an upfront, hard sell.
2. They resist compromise
3. They think the secret of persuasion lies in presenting great arguments
4. They assume persuasion is a one-shot effort.

When I finally let go of my image of being listened to just because I was the DOCTOR and realized I had to earn my respect as LEADER, the success of my practice, the service we gave to our patients, and the atmosphere of our office all improved dramatically.
Is it all perfect? Of course not, but great food for thought!