MWI (Managing With Influence)

July 10, 2013 by Bill Bradley


Title:  The Art and Application of Influence

Competencies: influence, negotiation, leadership, communication skills

Who benefits: anyone employed or seeking employment

Consultant Usage: excellent for communication trainers, good for personal development for organizational consultants and coaches at all levels

What’s it about? The headline in the July/August issue of Harvard Business Review is “Influence: How to Get it; How to Use it”. It features four articles on this underappreciated and underutilized skill.  Just in case you are not a subscriber or regular reader of HBR, I consider this a “must read” issue.  To make it easy, I am going to summarize the four articles.  Just click on the links to go to the articles of interest.

Is it better to be feared or loved as a leader? This is the age old Machiavellian question. Can’t have/be both.  In Connect, Then Lead “(research) from Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and consultants Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger refutes Machiavelli’s theory, arguing that leaders would do much better to begin with ‘love’—that is, to establish trust through warmth and understanding. Most leaders today approach their jobs by emphasizing competence, strength, and credentials. But without first building a foundation of trust, they run the risk of eliciting fear, resentment, or envy.”

The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents is about 3 success factors in large scale change: Being central in the organization’s informal network, bridging with disconnected groups or individuals, and being close to those who are ambivalent to what is changing.  Change isn’t easy.  Big changes and big organizations make a shift in direction even more difficult.  But successful leaders/change agents find a way to navigate through the complexities and network their network to get the job done.

In the third article, How Experts Gain Influence, learn about “four competencies—trailblazing, toolmaking, teamwork, and translation—that help functional leaders or groups compete for top management’s limited attention and increase their impact.”  At least two of these competencies are making a rare appearance … at least on this Blog, so a new way of looking at influence may just be what you are looking for.

“The ability to persuade others to contribute to your efforts is a key skill for managers, for team members—for anyone who wants to elevate the probability of success,” it says in The Uses (and Abuses) of Influence.  The author “has found that persuasion works by appealing to certain deeply rooted human responses: liking, reciprocity, social proof, commitment and consistency, authority, and scarcity.”

I doubt if Tom Sawyer realized the technical aspect of getting others to help him whitewash the fence back in an earlier day.  But after reading these articles, I think I know his secret, even if he only intuited what to do.  Hmmm, now who can I get to wash my car?

Well, there you have it.  Four articles from HBR.  As you might expect they are scholarly, informative, engaging and well-written/comfortable to read.  They also have some practical applications and the occasional “how-to”.  What’s not like?  Is there anything more I can do to influence you to read these articles?

I need to add a footnote here.  If you are not a subscriber to HBR, you will only be able to read the first 10-15 paragraphs.  There is a way for you to receive 3 articles free each month … follow the instructions on the website.  Otherwise, you can purchase a PDF.  But even if you only read the free portions, it is a good investment of time.

Catch you later.

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Leadership Development

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  1. Sara Canaday says:

    Thank you for bringing us these articles from HBR. I appreciate your summaries and the provided links.

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