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May 2007
ISSN 1834-4933. Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence

Wisdom to lead minds:

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves.

The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Why understanding how to bake a cake can make you a better influencer

When Jim Collins coined the idea that good is the enemy of great in his 2001 best-seller “Good to Great,” he summed up a great deal about the human condition. When people think of themselves as already good, or even ok, then too many succumb to the easy seduction of their present state.

So it is for leaders who see no point improving their effectiveness in influencing others. For some, their position ensures what seems a comfortable level of internal compliance and external respect.   Others harbour such a belief in themselves and their ideas that they resent the idea of having to convince people to support what should be self-evident. Both groups find it easy to adopt the comfortable belief in the power of silver bullet techniques based on core messages and single shot communication.

How otherwise smart people can hold such simplistic beliefs is staggering. Yet hold them and act on them they do, despite the clear daily evidence that single shot approaches fail consistently.  Because so many others hold these beliefs, many reassure themselves that they must be true. And, of course, it is easier than having to rethink and retool for an alternative that needs more discipline and more thought.

Leaders who want to make a real difference first need to practise disciplined thinking about their communication and influence strategies. Just how much support do they need from customers, peers, staff, suppliers and others important to their success? And what approaches will deliver the level of support they need? These are questions that define leaders destined to make lasting impacts.

You will see the following three steps when you watch leaders who rise above the comfort zone and effectively move people to action. These leaders:

  1. decide specifically what they want to achieve, and whose help or agreement they most need to succeed.
  2. observe and probe closely to understand what these people know, think and most want. Then they create the conditions to give it to them to earn their support.
  3. use a stepped process, rather than a one-shot strategy to achieve their outcome.

Previous editions of this newsletter have discussed the first two. However, the third point is even less understood or practiced. Even in marketing where it is well established that prospects move through a series of stages in making a buying decision, most fail because they use a single step attempt to sell. For example, in the continuum from attention through interest and desire to action there are specific actions the marketer can use at each stage. However, if they attempt to close a sale when the prospect is merely attending to the message, or simply interested, they are likely to fail.

Similarly, syntax or the order of things is crucial in earning support for ideas. For example, if a leader discusses how a change will work and what benefits it will bring before he or she has shown the need for that change, they are less likely to succeed. So good leaders not only understand the need for multiple stages rather than single shot approaches, they also recognise the order of these stages is crucial. And within these stages, even the order of the words they use can make the difference between significant success or failure. 

Consider the simpler process of baking a cake. What chef would mix the flour and salt, but leave adding the eggs and butter later? Or bake a cake tin of flour first, and then add eggs, salt and butter before mixing and serving? Of course not. So why do so many otherwise smart professionals presume the way more complicated business of persuading others  might be achieved in a single step. Or fail to consider the order of the steps makes a crucial difference to the outcome.   

Next time you need to win hearts and minds, pause and decide what multiple steps you need, and in what order they should take place.

More next month...


Geoff Kelly works with leaders who are frustrated that others don't fully support their ideas and strategies. He mainly works with corporate leaders around the world, but also leaders in Government and Not for Profit. He is also a popular speaker on this and related subjects. See www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au, email [email protected] or call +613 9678 9218 for more information


© 2006 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
You are free to use material from the Leading Minds eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read: "By Geoff Kelly of Kelly Strategic Influence. Please visit Geoff's web site at www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au for additional articles and resources on earning support for your ideas and strategies." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)



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