Written by Sonia McDonald from LeadershipHQ on 6 December 2016
In the past, many leaders used to rely on the authority of their job title to influence and sometimes coerce others into compliance. Today, we know that if we want to motivate others to put forth their best effort and be fully engaged, we need to use our emotional intelligence and people skills to build relationships and bonds of trust. In this way, we are able to get others to join our team and work with us; co-operating and collaborating on tasks and projects that help all of us achieve more than any of us would be able to achieve on our own.
Your Level of Success is Determined by Your Ability to Persuade Others
As a leader, you likely know that you need to build effective communication skills and be authentic, empathetic and consistent in order to identify and recruit members to your tribe. What you may not realise, however, is that a large part of your success in being able to get people to join you and cooperate with you lies in just how persuasive you are.
At its heart, persuasion is your ability to get someone to “jump on the bandwagon,” and say “Yes,” to your requests. Unless you are able to persuade others to work with you, it becomes very difficult if not impossible to accomplish even the simplest task.
How Good Are You at Selling Your Vision?
Therefore, persuasion is a necessary skill, and one that you must master if you wish to be successful as a leader. Most leaders, however, overlook this key skill because they do not understand its importance. Too often, persuasion is seen as something that is only important if you are marketing or selling something, so advertisers and retailers often place great emphasis on it.
A leader is also, in a sense, selling something. From the easiest task to the most difficult objective, leaders at their heart are selling their vision to their team. Unless they are able to persuade others to “buy in” and motivate them to give their best effort, they will ultimately fail, every single time.
Scientific Principles Underlie the Art of Persuasion
Scientists all over the world have been studying the art of persuasion, the ability to get people to agree and say “yes,” for decades. Many surprising facts about how each of us comes to say, “yes,” have been uncovered during this research.
Most of Us Do Not Base Our Decisions on Facts Alone
While nearly all of us would like to believe that we are always completely logical beings and base decisions solely on rational thought and facts, the truth is far different. Most of us are busy, and base our decisions, at least in part, on our emotions. We each have competing demands for our time and thoughts, so we often take shortcuts and base our decisions on how we feel about the person at the time that they make a request rather than looking at all of the benefits or consequences of accepting or declining the request.
Practical Tips to Influence Others to Want to Say Yes to Your Requests
The following are just a few of the many ways that you can influence the emotions and feelings that others have about you so that they are more likely to say “yes,” and cooperate with you.
Reciprocity is the Gift that Keeps on Giving
When you think of the last time that someone unexpectedly gave you something for “free” and without any strings attached, how did it make you feel? Did the gift feel even more special if it was personalised and showed that the giver put some thought into who you are as a person and what you like before they presented the gift to you?
When someone gives you something without being asked, and the gift is something that you like, research has shown that you are more likely to cooperate with this person later. You are also more likely to give this person something later when asked.
Feeling obligated to give something to someone after they have done something nice for you is a key principle of persuasion and is known as reciprocity. If you want your team to cooperate more with you, try cooperating with them first. Consider offering more flexible schedules or other little perks that are meaningful and personalised to their needs and interests. Doing so will get your associates to buy in, and build their loyalty, morale and performance.
Be Likeable and Genuine
When scientists study the art of persuasion, they found that the people who are most able to convince others to go along or otherwise say “yes” are basically likeable and genuine. Beyond simply being friendly, individuals who are likeable are easily able to build rapport and bonds with others.
You can increase your likability among your team members by taking the time to get to know them as individuals. Take the time to talk with your team and find out what it is that makes them “tick.” As part of this process, share some personal details with your crew, and look for areas of common ground, shared interests and other similarities.
Offer sincere compliments to your team members and work with them to co-operate on mutual goals that will help them to grow and increase their opportunities. As you increase your likability with your team, they will then be more likely to buy in to your vision and give you their best efforts and collaborate with you on tasks, projects and goals.
While all of us want to believe that we are fully independent operators, most of us look to the actions of others to determine own. For the most part, we don’t want to rock the proverbial boat, we want to fit in. You can put this natural tendency to work for you and make it easier for others to cooperate and say yes to your requests by taking the time to build consensus before you make your request.
Make certain that you have the full consent and support of key people before you make your request, and don’t be afraid to tell your team how others are already cooperating and working together as a team and complying with the request.
Of course reciprocity, consensus building and likability are just a few of the key principles of the art of persuasion. There are many more that leaders can put to good use to increase their effectiveness and performance.
If you would like to learn more about the art of persuasion and the science behind why it works so well why not get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you master this and other leadership skills?