At our November 4 First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present the blockbuster best-seller entitled Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini (Simon & Schuster, 2016). This book has been on the Wall Street Journal business-best selling list for two consecutive weeks. It debuted on the list at # 2 on September 17-18, and stands at # 7 in the edition published September 24-25 (p. C10).
As of this writing, the book is #74 overall on Amazon.com and # 1 in three different business book categories on the list.
You can read a review of this book by Carol Travis that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on September 17 by clicking HERE.
The book receives acclaim due to its heavy reliance on experimental evidence to support its claims. It has three major sections: (1) key elements of attention, (2) mental processes of association, and (3) best practices. While not foolproof, the message in the book is that preparing the influencee to receive the persuasive message is the most important part of convincing someone.
Cialdini is a social psychologist whose first book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, was published in 1984. That book was included on the list of the best 100 business books of all time. He received his Ph.D from the University of North Carolina. He is the CEO and President of Influence at Work, which focuses on ethical influence training, corporate keynote programs, and his own certified trainer method.
You can bet that this book will be a major draw at our event. I look forward to presenting the synopsis on November 4.
First, a comment about “politics.” I really do try to keep politics out of my blog posts, for a lot of reasons. The main reason is that so many are so strongly aligned with one side or the other that to even broach a political example runs the risk of turning off/offending/angering half of the readership of this blog. But, there are times when the arena of politics provides just the right fodder for lessons regarding business success or failure. So, at the risk of offending some, here goes…
Recently, two critics of President Obama took to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post to recommend that President Obama announce, now, that he will not seek a second term. This morning Stanford Professor and author Jeffery Pfeffer wrote quite an interesting column about why that would be a very bad idea: Why President Obama should run again in 2012 – a management perspective. Here are key excerpts:
It was a cautionary tale: A longtime partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm decided she would step down from her leadership role, and in an attempt to make life easier for her colleagues, she gave plenty of advance notice of her departure.
Bad idea. As soon as her end date at the company was well known, she later told me, her role at the firm changed. People stopped consulting her on hiring or investment decisions. She wasn’t invited to key meetings. Essentially, most people started freezing her out, treating her as if she’d already left.
And in a sense, she had. Her co-workers correctly anticipated that she soon would have no power to help or hurt them, so she became effectively irrelevant to their working lives.
Getting things done, whether in the private sector or in government, requires power, and having power means retaining the capacity to affect what happens to others, ensuring that those whose support you remain dependent on you. As former secretary of state and Stanford University provost Condoleezza Rice told one protege, “People may oppose you, but when they realize you can hurt them, they’ll join your side.
…you have power to the extent that others are going to depend on you in the future
Leaders need power, as well as a reputation for being powerful. Announcing that you will be out of the arena soon seems like a particularly ineffective strategy to get things done.
A while back, Bob Morris, my blogging colleague posted his review of Pfeffer’s book on our blog: Jeffrey Pfeffer’s Power: Why Some People Have It – and Others Don’t – A Book Review by Bob MorrisHere’s a key paragraph from his review:
Pfeffer insists that the world is neither just nor unjust: it is. He also challenges “leadership literature” (including his contributions to it) because celebrity CEOs who tout their own careers as models tend to “gloss over power plays they actually used to get to the top” whereas authors such as Pfeffer offer “prescriptions about how people wish the world and the powerful behaved.” Pfeffer also suggests that those aspiring to power “are often their own worst enemy, and not just in the arena of building power” because of self-handicapping, a reluctance (perhaps even a refusal) to take initiatives that may fail and thereby diminish one’s self-image. “I have come to believe that the biggest single effect I can have is to get people to try to become powerful.” Pfeffer wrote this book as an operations manual for the acquisition and retention of power. Of even greater importance, in my opinion, he reveals the ultimate realities of what power is…and isn’t…and thereby eliminates the shadows of illusion and self-deception that most people now observe in the “caves” of their own current circumstances.
I think Pfeffer’s premise is correct. It may not be the way the world should work, but it certainly is true about the way the world does work. If you are perceived as powerless, than people do not treat you as though you had power. If you are perceived as someone with power, then your input, your influence, is great indeed. The more power you have, the more you can get things done.
On Saturday, I presented a program entitled “Influencing Skills for Effective Leadership.” As usual, it was packed. There is no program that I do that gets more attendees.
We know that influence is a key and identifiable behavior for leaders to exhibit. And, based upon the success of the second edition of Cohen and Bradford’s Influence Without Authority (Wiley, 2005), we know that more people use influence, even when they could pull rank on someone and use power or authority.
Why is that? Why “sell” when you could “tell?’ I teach that with influence you get commitment, not compliance. And, when a follower is committed, you see drive, enthusiasm, quality, and even defending a particular action when someone asks why he or she is doing something. Covey said it years ago – “without involvement, there is no commitment.” For my money, I want people committed, not complying. I don’t want people “getting it done,” crossing it off the list, and working to finish something without caring, desiring, and enthusiastically doing a task a right. With influence comes commitment.
In my workshop, I teach a five-step process for selling ideas and desired actions for someone to take. We also include a four-step process for overcoming objections. We focus on “managing up” – how to influence a boss, or a bosses’ boss. We also talk about how to influence support departments and members of teams who you have to count on to get a job done. And, we work on how to influence peers and co-workers whom you need cooperation from, but who do not report to you, and who do not HAVE to do anything you want them to, no matter how good of an idea you may have.
Remember these premises: when you do not have power and authority, all you have available is influencing. But, even if you do have power and authority, the better choice to use is influencing.
Everyone sells – you do not have to be a salesperson to use influence. We all sell others our ideas, desired actions to take, and direction.
You can change your work culture around you by replacing “telling” with “selling.” And, if you are a manager, why not have your employees engaged in “selling” instead of “asking” you. When someone asks you, “can I,” “may I,” or “what do you think if I…,” try responding with “sell me – come back and sell me.” Two things will happen. First, the people who come to see you will be more prepared and use your time better. Second, you will see fewer people!
I am happy to talk with you about this workshop, and how you can book it for your organization. I have taught thousands of people these skills for 24 years. You can reach me by telephone at (972) 980-0383 or by e-mail at .
Let’s talk really soon about this!
It’s been years since I read the terrific book by Gail Evans, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: (What Men know About Success that Women Need to Learn). But this week, I presented my synopsis of this book at the first Take Your Brian To Lunch program. (Congratulations to our blogging team members, Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith, for their success in the launch of this event, focused on issues of women in business).
As I took a fresh look at this book, something hit me in a new way. We all know the adage, “do what you love, and the money will follow.” (By the way, I’m not really sure I have ever entirely believed this. After all, I love eating Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, but I have not figured out a way to get rich doing so…) But some quotes from Evans’ book really got me to thinking. Here are the quotes:
The ultimate winner in the game of business is not necessarily the person with the most power or the most money or the most fame. Rather, it’s the person who loves his or her work. Loving what you do is self-empowering.
If you can’t keep finding ways to maintain your enthusiasm for your job, you’re going to get flat.
Gail Evans is certainly concerned with financial rewards for women. But the book is about that, and so much more. It is about standing, her place in the (corporate) world, her influence. And it hit me. If you don’t love what you do, the people around you will know that, and then you have no credibilty (what Aristotle called ethos). You cannot be a thought leader, a pace setter, if you have no passion for your work. You have to love what you do to have such passion — to develop, and maintain, ethos. To actually have a position and reputation of influence, you have to matter (in a business sense, not just a personal sense) to those around you. And this means to matter to those around you, in the sense that your leadership, your ideas, your thoughts, your very presence, matters.
So — if you think that you do not have enough influence, maybe you are in the wrong arena. Because if you truly love what you do, there’s a pretty good chance that influence will follow.
• You can order the synopses of my original presentation of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman, and also of the book Women Don’t Ask, which I also presented at the Take Your Brain to Lunch event, at our companion web site, 15 Minute Business Books.