Leadership On The Run


Episode Summary

Are you using the 'dark side of the force' to influence others? Defaulting to avoidance, manipulation, intimidation or threatening behaviour when you need to influence someone? If this sounds familiar, you're gong to want to listen to this episode to uncover how much more effective you will be when you use three of the most effective influencing tactics. Jeanine and Paul discuss the research of psychologists Yukl and Terry Bacon (2011) and provide practical steps on how to use a combination of approaches to enhance the way you influence others.

Episode Notes

Leaders have a need to influence people at work when they:

Paul and Jeanine discuss the work of Terry Bacon, (Elements of Influence, 2011) and how his three categories of influencing people: rational, social and emotional can be most effectively used in the workplace.

Within his ‘rational’ category, Bacon includes the sub categories of legitimating, stating and explaining. (Yukl and Tracey, Consequences of Influence Tactics Used with Subordinates, Peers, and the Boss. Journal of Applied Psychology, 1992, Vol 77, No 4, 525-535)

RATIONAL (Legitimating, Stating, Explaining)

Logic: Using logic to explain what you believe or what you want. The number one influence power tool throughout the world. The most frequently used and effective influence technique in nearly every culture, but it does not work with everyone and in some circumstances will not work at all.

Legitimating: Appealing to authority. On average, the least-effective influence technique in the world, but it will work with some people most of the time and most people some of the time and can result in quick compliance.

Engaging: Negotiating or trading for cooperation. Most effective when it is implicit rather than explicit. Used less often globally than any other influence technique, but it is sometimes the only way to gain agreement or cooperation.

Stating: Asserting what you believe or want. One of the influence power tools. Most effective when you are self-confident and state ideas with a compelling tone of voice. Can cause resistance, however, if overused or used heavy-handedly.

SOCIAL (Socialising, Alliance building, Consulting)

Socialising: Getting to know the other person, being open and friendly, finding common ground. Includes complimenting people and making them feel good about themselves. One of the influence power tools. Second in frequency and effectiveness globally. A critical technique in many cultures and situations.

Alliance building: Finding supporters or building alliances to help influence someone else; using peer or group pressure to gain cooperation or agreement. Not used often and not always effective but in the right circumstances may be the only way to gain consent.

Consulting: Engaging or stimulating people by asking questions; involving them in the problem or solution. One of the influence power tools. Fourth globally in frequency and effectiveness. Works well with smart, self-confident people who have a strong need to contribute ideas.

EMOTIONAL (Appealing to values, appealing to relationship, Role modelling)

Appealing to values: This is where my request would be tied to your values, ideals and aspirations, or where it builds your confidence that you can make a contribution. Making an inspirational appeal helps create meaning and purpose for those you lead. Rather than trying to build behavioural compliance, inspirational appeal acts on someone’s attitudes, and that means it works while you’re not there - the person is self-motivated to take action.

Appealing to relationship: Gaining agreement or cooperation with people you already know well. Based on the length and strength of your existing relationships. One of the influence power tools. Third highest in effectiveness globally.

Modelling: Behaving in ways you want others to behave; being a role model; teaching, coaching, counseling, and mentoring. Fifth globally in effectiveness. Can influence people without you being aware that you are influencing. Parents, leaders, managers, and public figures influence others through modeling all the time - positively or negatively - whether they choose to or not.

Research by Yukl and Tracey (1992) found that inspirational appeal was a particularly positive influencing tactic. But effective influencing isn’t just about a compelling speech. Yukl and Tracey found rational persuasion was also very effective as an influencing tactic. As the name suggests, rational persuasion uses logical arguments and facts to persuade others. It provides the evidence many people need to be comfortable with a particular approach.

They also found that consultation was an effective tactic when influencing others. Consultation involves others in the initial decision making and implementation. By gathering and responding to ideas, people have far more of a vested interest in the change and implementation.

Again, the three most effective influencing tactics all involved the internalisation of favourable attitudes. Whether it’s inspirational appeal, rational persuasion or consultation, something is passed from the leader to the other person which means they want to make a change, rather than the leader having to stand around all day telling people what to do.

So some questions for you: 

Of the three most effective influencing tactics, which do you tend to default to? 

Is it inspirational appeal, rational persuasion or consultation? 

In my experience, many people default to rational persuasion - a reliance on the facts and data to persuade others - and that’s fine. But it’s worth practicing the other approaches to increase your influence. Perhaps you might include a story, or some additional data, or involve others more in idea generation - these can all help to increase your influence. You can also combine these three approaches.

Avoiding the dark side

There are also four negative influence techniques: avoiding, manipulating, intimidating, and threatening. These are negative because they take away the other person's legitimate right to say no. They force them to comply with something contrary to their wishes or best interests, they mislead them, or they force them to act when they would otherwise choose not to.

Avoiding: Forcing others to act, sometimes against their best interests, by avoiding responsibility or conflict or behaving passive-aggressively. The most common dark side technique. In some cultures, trying to preserve harmony can look like avoiding.

Manipulating: Influencing through lies, deceit, hoaxes, swindles, and cons or disguising one's real intentions or intentionally withholding information others need to make the right decision.

Intimidating: Imposing oneself on others; forcing people to comply by being loud, overbearing, abrasive, arrogant, aloof, or insensitive. The preferred technique of bullies.

Threatening: Harming others or threatening to harm them if they do not comply; making examples of some people so others know that the threats are real. The preferred technique of dictators and despots.