Leadership Through The Power Of Persuasion

(Suggested length 90+minutes)

It is through the influence process that we lead, generate, and manage change. Like most things, the process can be handled poorly or well. It can be employed to foster growth and to move people away from negative choices and in more positive directions, thereby creating the conditions for new opportunities. Or, it can be used clumsily, reducing the chance for genuine movement and, in the worst of cases, boomeranging into conflict and resentment.

As such, it is important for those wishing to lead effectively to understand fully the workings of the influence process. Fortunately, a vast body of scientific evidence now exists on how, when, and why people say yes to influence attempts. In his presentation, Dr. Robert Cialdini extracts from this formidable body of work the six universal principles of influence–those that are so powerful that they generate desirable change in the widest range of circumstances. The principles are:

  • Reciprocation. People are significantly more willing to comply with requests (for favors, services, information, concessions, etc.) from a leader who has provided such things first.
  • Commitment/Consistency. People are more willing to be moved by a leader if they see the change as consistent with commitment they have previously and publicly made.
  • Authority. The particular combination of expertise and trustworthiness renders a leader the most persuasive communicator science has ever uncovered.
  • Social Proof. People are more willing to perform a recommended action if a leader provides evidence that many similar others are performing it.
  • Scarcity. People find recommended opportunities more attractive to the degree that a leader can honestly position them scarce, rare, or dwindling in availability.
  • Liking. People say yes to the leaders they like.

Dr. Cialdini’s presentation illustrates how these six principles have been and can be harnessed to meet specific influence objectives. Dr. Cialdini emphasizes the nonmanipulative use of the principles so that those who are influenced feel personally committed to the new direction and to their relationship with the leader. It is only in this fashion that the influence process can be simultaneously effective, ethical, and enduring. And it is only in this fashion that it can enhance a lasting sense of partnership between those involved.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D.

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