Leadership Series (15) How Persuasion Enhance Leaders Performance. By Victor A. Imhangbe

One thing as a leader is to have some really nice idea in your head, but often time you find it very difficult to transfer such ideas to people understanding in order to buy on it. At times your followers may take you to be a complaining or nagging leader. Other may see you as trying to coerce them. However the answer depends on how you are able to influence and persuade.

Persuasion is a verbal means of communicating your idea to people and using logic that will make them to buy into the idea, and want to do it your way. And the best way of doing that is in a way that others don’t notice. But how?

Usually, people tend to equate persuasion and influence as the same, but there is a clear distinction between the two. Persuasion is reasoning with someone so that he would believe or do something. Influence, on the other hand, is the ability to affect the manner of thinking of another. Both terms have deep meanings for someone who aspires to be a good leader, as both persuasion and influence can be used for motivation.

To critically examine the word; persuasion, it can be understood as a method of changing somebody’s behaviour. Persuasion is usually a concerted effort by the persuader wishes to alter the course of action of the individual through communication. This can be achieved through a reasoning technique with the individual. It is widely believed that if you are successful, persuasion played a significant role. In fact, some great leaders and orators are known to possess the power of the gab. They are great orators and are capable of swaying people’s opinion and behaviour easily. This is very common in our daily life. For an instance, there is a party in your neighborhood being organised by one of your friend’s, since you are studying for an exams schedule for the following day, you decided not to attend. While you are studying, you get a phone call from a friend and after talking with her for a while, you are also planning on going for the party. In such an instance, the friend has persuaded you to alter your course of action through effective communication.

Let me use the parable of the wind and the sun as example. It was a challenge to decide who is stronger and powerful between the two. It was centered on who best could persuade a man to take off his cloths. The wind strongly relied on it strength and fury; blew and blew, but the man only held on more tightly to his cloths. The sun on the other hand, did not make any strong effort, but shone gently down, from seconds, and within minutes the man took off his cloths. The moral here is that you can’t impose your idea down someone throat through force; but, the art of persuasion is to get them to want what you want. I have got an interesting excerpt to further illustrate persuasion as follows:

Persuasion Unseen

Consider this example of a group of students choosing a leader for a group task. The group had agreed on the ideal type of person, and there were two obvious candidates within the group, Sue and Steven. 

Sue suggested that Steven should take on the task, and he accepted happily. Decision made. Everyone smiled, except for one member of the group, John. 

John, who had until that moment been silent, said: “Steven, don’t forget to let us know what you want us to do to help. With your new job, you’re going to have a lot on, and you’ll need to make sure you get us organised or we won’t get it all done.” 

Steven looked thoughtful, and then said, “You know, on reflection, I’m not sure I’ve got time to do this as well as starting my new job. I have got a lot on, as you say. Maybe it would be better if Sue did it.” 

Everyone looked at Sue, who said that she would take it on if the group wanted. They all agreed that would be best. 

Sue later asked John privately why he had intervened when the group had already decided on a leader. He said that he thought she would do it better than Steven, and get a better result for the group. 

(Adapted from skillsyouneed.com “Persuasion and Influencing Skills”)

In the above excerpt, John had used his persuasion skills very subtly to get what he wanted, and created a win-win situation from a potentially unpleasant conversation. Steven was happy that the group had acknowledged his skills, and equally happy that he wasn’t leading the task. In fact, at the end, he wanted Sue to lead it, without John ever having to risk upsetting him by saying that he thought Sue would be better. The bottom-line is that people have to believe in you and your credibility. Image is everything and the belief people have in you, your product, your mission, your facts or your reputation are key to being a great leader. You have to persuade people of this; it doesn’t just happen.

From the above analysis, we can simply agree that the importance of persuasion in any organisation is vital. Persuasion skills are needed both in business as well as in the private life. In business it is a crucial aspect as you have to be able to communicate and negotiate with individuals at all levels of an organization and also with external partners.

Do you feel that your persuasion skills need some improvement? Then read the following tips.

How To Enhance Your Persuasion Skills

Filip Molcan provides three simple tips for better persuasion skills.

1. LISTEN: To be an effective persuader you need to listen carefully. If you want to be heard, then listening is vital as it gives the other person chance to express all the wants and needs. But most importantly, it shows that you are not pursuing only your own interests. Naturally there is some aim of the conversation, nevertheless the other person should not feel manipulated. Everyone strives for benefits. Therefore the result of the conversation should be beneficial for both sides. In other words, win-win situation should be achieved.

2. PRACTICE: Even though you might not be good at persuading others, it is not a huge problem. You just need to practice as much as possible. No matter how shy you are, persuasion skills can be improved. You should communicate with all different people and definitely you will face a situation when you would like to convince the other person about something. Try to improvise and behave naturally. Do not feel under pressure. The more you communicate with people, the better you become in persuasion and negotiation.

3. NO FEAR: Try to eliminate all worries and fear of being unsuccessful in your persuasion. These feelings create a barrier for improvement. The only solution is not to think about being unsuccessful and making mistakes. That will affect your mood and you will behave stiff and nervous. Even if you make any mistake it doesn’t matter because everyone makes them. No one is perfect. If any mistake occurs in the discussion, analyze it properly when the conversation is over. Learn from your mistakes. Maybe you failed in persuading one person but in the future you will meet more people and you will have a chance to get better and better.

It is understood from the above discussion, that possessing persuasive ability is an added advantage to people in leadership position. In our next series, we shall discuss how self confidence enhance leadership achievement. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.

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Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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