A leader may possess strong visionary and creative talents, but they still have to be able to persuade others to follow their initiatives. You can lay down the most elegant and practical strategic plan but it takes a team effort to achieve the objectives and goals contained therein.
How the leader persuades the key individuals on the team to achieve the intended short and long-term results should not depend strictly on the type of personality in charge of the organization. Whether they are an empathetic socializer, a commanding dominator, a security prone accommodator, or data-driven controller there are certain critical aspects of persuasive leadership that need to be taken into account.
Know employees’ strengths and weaknesses – it is much easier to persuade an individual to do what is required of them when it falls into their strengths. By being fully aware of each member’s abilities and talents it is much easier to allocate appropriate objectives and goals. Sometimes these individuals are not even aware of their strengths within the corporate structure. The persuasive leader takes the time to let them know what these are and persuades them to put it to even better use.
Artificiality is a turn-off – Recognize that your employees have figured out your personality by now. If you have been an easy-going socializer, suddenly taking on a dominating approach will leave people more perplexed than persuaded. They will sense that there is something that is off kilter and may again be changeable with time. This produces a wait and see attitude, which is not conducive to getting the job done in a timely manner.
Participaction – Allowing others to participate in planning and decision making leads to better actions because they become an intrinsic part of the whole process. At some point in the preliminary planning stage, it is beneficial to obtain feedback from the people that will ultimately be assigned with the task of carrying it through. If they stray off the path or do not recognize the value of the vision then it is up to the leader to explain it more clearly. This approach has a reciprocal benefit because it causes a deeper reflection on the merits.
Inspiration as persuasion – Inspiring the troops by appealing both to their emotions and logic through a well-delivered speech has always been a persuasive call-to-action. Writing and delivering it takes great skill, and requires properly rehearsing it to achieve the maximum effect. By having someone hear it in advance, and provide honest feedback on its powers of persuasion, assures that it will have the desired consequences. A good speech has to be followed by example, which emanates from the leader and shows that whatever is called for applies to everyone.
Explain the purpose – Concentrating too much on implementation undermines the persuasiveness factor. People want to know the purpose (the why) for any plan or action, and how it benefits the company and them. Without explaining this properly, enthusiasm for its accomplishment is lessened, and may not get the necessary support. Persuasive leaders realize the importance of appealing to the needs and wants of their subordinates.
Push and pull – Recognize when it is time to push, and when it is better to pull back or take a break from driving a project through. This is a well-recognized approach that ultimately leads to results. Pulling back after a hard push is a good time to perform a statistical review, which measures what has been achieved to date. It provides a persuasive argument to carry on or to take a different direction. The original plan brought forward by the leader can now be placed in a context of hard numbers and quantifiable data.
Control the emotions – Replacing sheer emotion with well-balanced enthusiasm is generally both more appealing and persuasive. An emotional rant that has the sounds and fury but is short on logic and factual content will create a lot of volume but will not have the desired acceptance that inspires action.
Get a proxy – Delivering an inspirational and persuasive speech may not play to a leader’s strength. This is where many companies find a suitable proxy to rouse the troops, and have their employees enthusiastically embrace a new direction. Celebrities from the sports or entertainment can create a buzz, and be listened to attentively by their adoring fans. Borrowing their services is probably too expensive for most small companies, but there are less recognizable personalities from the local community that can be persuaded to perform for free and deliver a sterling message. It is advisable to ensure, through a preliminary consultation, that the speaker stays on the message, which the leader wishes to convey.