Be an Influencer

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I just finished the book "Influencer: The Power to Change Anything" by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et. al. The authors lay out a simple formula to create useful shifts in people’;s behaviors and perspectives. It is an excellent read for business owners to improve their understanding of human behavior and glean useful techniques to manage and run their business.

This book is a continuation of many previous books and approaches that are focused on how to influence others, which include Dale Carnegie’;s "How to Win Friends and Influence People," as well as NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming and numerous motivational speakers, such as Zig Ziglar.

In general, human nature tends to resists change. We take the path of least resistance. Even if it means we repeat the same bad behavior. Unfortunately, many, if not most of the approaches society currently takes to change serious and deeply ingrained behavior, such as overeating, drug use and criminal activities will fail to resolve those issues. A drug addict who is destroying his life will continue that behavior even if it means death. Why?

The first concept is that the traditional approaches that focus on the carrot (positive motivation) or the stick (negative reinforcement) will not work for most people in the long term. Any employer can testify that punishment is rarely successful in changing a bad employee’;s behavior. Although praise works better, it has an escalating factor over time, which will top off and become non-effective at some point.

What is the difference between the average non-leader and the successful leader? A true influencer knows how to break through a person’;s natural resistance to change. So, what are the steps one takes to improve their situation or lead other people? The book "Influencers" outlines the six sources of influence, which includes motivation and ability.

The authors describe an effort to eradicate a parasite in Africa and India. The team working on this problem had its first success when it identified the "positive deviants." These were the villages that had no instances of the parasite, despite being next to villages that suffered from the scourge.

Within the book, the authors outline the eight steps to influence other people. The first two steps are the pre-approach. The last six are the six key sources of influence. A multi-prong approach is most beneficial. The steps include:

1. Find the Vital Behaviors. What are the successful people doing that is different from those that are failing? Identify what works and what does not work. As an employer, what are your high performers doing that is different from the rest of the pack? This is the key behavior to get the rest to emulate.

2. Change the way you change minds. What is your current approach to influencing others? If it is not working, change your approach. Do you use talking points or memos to get your points across? Or do you use stories and metaphors, which are much more successful.

3. Make the undesirable desirable. Find a way to get everyone to align with your vision and the key values ​​to make your business successful. Go beyond business motivations and appeal to your employees’; sense of higher purpose. Clarify how humankind improves a little bit because of the success of your business.

4. Surpass the current limits. Employees thrive with a challenging environment. Create challenges for your employees that will force them to expand beyond their current limits through training and coaching. Provide them feedback against standards that were previously clearly defined.

5. Social Motivation. Harness peer pressure to exploit influential champions within the group. Identify opinion leaders and get them involved in encouraging other to make the necessary changes. Persuade the most resistant and involve them in the change process. The rest will follow.

6. Strength in Numbers. Develop a situation that people are helping each other. Create true teamwork with all employees, which will promote support to resolve obstacles to success. Encourage everyone to provide constructive feedback to management to improve the process.

7. Structural Motivation – Rewards and Motivation. Design a system that includes rewards while claiming accountability from employees. The concept is to align an employee reward system to the results they produce. Make sure that any incentives used are tied directly to the behaviors that matter and encourage the desired results.

8. Change the Environment. Wherever possible, change the physical environment to make doing new behaviors almost unavoidable by moving people or things closer together or farther apart to get the desired results. Use reminders, such as regular communications and metrics that will keep the need for change visible and in front of their mind. Make sure that information about progress towards change is objective, accurate, timely, and visible.

The authors of "Influencers" weave in various stories throughout the book that demonstrate how "true influencers" successfully impact massive amounts of people to change behaviors for positive results. These include stories from changing the behavior of sex workers in Thailand in order to reduce the spread of AIDS, to an organization in San Francisco that is successful in mastering criminals while being self-sufficient, to a program that save doctors a $ 10 Starbucks card to sterilize their hands for the purpose of not spreading diseases to patients.

The elements to successfully lead and influence people are not new. The problem is that our society has incorporated many non-successful approaches at the same time. There are many current theories and books that are in alignment with the book discussed here: "Influencers." So there are many other options that should match your style, if this book falls flat for you.

Visit the website for more information from the authors, which includes free resources and influencing assessment tools.