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In assessing your ability to persuade others, ask yourself the following questions:
Persuasiveness is the ability to sell others on ideas, approaches, products, or services. Individuals who are persuasive are able to influence their followers, and can induce certain mindsets or behaviors from their employees. Persuasive leaders can not only communicate their vision or directives to their employees, but convince these employees to get on board with their plans.
One of the key duties of a leader is to influence others, especially direct reports. Leaders often have to convince employees to follow new initiatives, implement difficult changes in how work is conducted, or gain employee buy-in for long-term strategic directions. Persuading employees is about more than getting individuals to behave in certain ways – it also involves garnering support for leader proposals, ensuring commitment to new projects or approaches, and building trust in the leader’s ability to plan, implement, and maintain organizational changes that are positive for both the company and the employees.
Maintain positive, trusting relationships: Before a leader even approaches employees regarding a new direction or approach, leaders should have positive relationships with their employees. Without a previous warm relationship, employees may feel the leader is untrustworthy, or that the leader does not have the interests of employees in mind. A sense of trust that leaders can and do keep their promises to their employees will go a long way in persuading employees to listen to leaders. Note, while interpersonal liking and positive emotions may help a leader open a discussion with employees, emotional or personal appeals tend to be ineffective. The most persuasive leaders use rational, logical arguments when seeking to influence others.
Encourage connections: Persuading others shares some common aspects with negotiation – in order to persuade employees, a leader must find out what their employees value, then show employees how the leader’s plan fits with the employees values or desires. If a leader can convince an employee that following the leader’s initiative will help them accomplish their own goals, employees are much more likely to be persuaded by the leader’s plans.
Emphasize the support of others: At times, a leader seeks to persuade employees to follow them through a large change that will alter the employees’ day-to-day work environment or tasks. Even leaders who have positive, trusting relationships with their employees can have a difficult time introducing dramatic changes to the workplace. Having other leaders or individuals in position of power endorse the leader’s agenda may help them to persuade employees to agree to even large changes.
The following steps can help you become better at influencing employees:
WATCH – The Science of Persuasion
DEVELOP your ability to influence others by taking advantage of SIGMA’s coaching services.
Interested in a hard copy of this handout? Download your PDF copy of our Leadership Series Handout: Lead with Persuasion.