Influencing another person requires that person to make a decision – whether to say yes, say no, discuss, negotiate, or offer an alternative that you both can live with. Decision-making related to influence is generally driven by needs, which can be practical or emotional in nature. Sometimes the need is obvious and discussable, such as a need for more time or resources. Sometimes the need is emotional and perhaps below awareness, but powerful all the same. While we may prefer to think of ourselves as rational and thoughtful decision-makers, recent studies by brain scientists and behavioral economists have shown that emotional needs are frequently the primary drivers behind our decisions.

…While we both focus on the topic of influence, we approach it from different backgrounds. This has led to many interesting conversations. We thought it might be useful to share some of them with you. We took several influence situations (borrowed with permission from Barnes & Conti’s Exercising Influence program material) and thought about how we might advise a client to approach them.

You need the support of a senior manager to sell your department on the need for a change in a key business process. This manager is not noted for risk-taking and usually prefers to have direct reports out front on changes. This time you need a strong and public commitment.

A recent Gartner study concluded that there were three qualities that characterized especially effective leaders – qualities that only one in four respondents reported were true of their managers. The three qualities are:

Authenticity; leaders were open about their thoughts and feelings
Empathy; leaders were tuned in to and interested in the experience, needs, and interests of those who report to them
Adaptability; leaders were flexible in responding to those needs and interests.

Leaders with these qualities, the report states, contributed to better engagement, performance, and retention of their team members.

Kim Barnes, who is, of course, the developer of our Exercising Influence program and author of the book, Exercising Influence: A Guide For Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community (Third Edition) recently engaged in a fascinating dialogue on social media regarding silence and influence.

by B. Kim Barnes
Reprinted from a LinkedIn article from February 28, 2022

As I watch, spellbound, the drama unfolding in Ukraine, I see everything I’ve ever learned or taught about inspirational leadership being demonstrated on the streets of Kiev. Volodymyr Zelensky, comedian turned political leader, has manifested every aspect of the model at right [1] – and in doing so, has influenced world leaders to take unprecedented actions to support him and his people. In recent years, we have seen political leaders provide poor examples – showing a lack of courage, self-awareness, constancy, empathy, and generosity of spirit, among other qualities. It’s hard to know what the outcome of this situation will be, but he has provided us with an inspiring example of how to lead under the most challenging of circumstances.

Inspirational leadership like that shown by Zelensky can, as we have seen in the followers of that leader, turn fear into determination, weakness into strength, confusion into steadfast commitment. We needed this example to show us what’s possible. I am grateful and in awe.

[1] From Inspirational Leadership, a copyrighted program of Barnes & Conti Associates, Inc.