Thursday, March 7, 2013

Daniel Pink on the Skill of Influence

Influence is a hot topic in leadership development.  For C level executive, it's the ability to get support from the board, business partners, and investors.   For mid to senior level leaders, it's frequently referred to as being able to "lead across the organization".     

When brought to an executive coach it might sound like:  "I need help with influence where I don't have authority."  or "I want to be more successful getting buy-in from my peers." or even "People don't respect me/respond to me/follow me.".  

In Daniel H. Pink's new book, "To Sell Is Human", he calls it the ability to move people.  The title of the book will attract those working in sales, marketing, and consulting.  However, the thought leadership he shares in regard to the skill of influence should make it a must-read for any leader looking to improve his/her abilities in this key area.  

The basic premise of this book is that we all spend our days trying to move others, and thus we are all in sales.  This holds true whether we are leaders pitching colleagues, parents and teachers cajoling kids, not-for profit volunteers doing fundraising, or salespeople closing the deal.  Moving others means trying to persuade others to part with resources - money, time, attention, efforts, ideas/opinions - to exchange something they value for what we are offering.    

The book is an easy read, and combines new research with existing studies from well known and respected experts (many of whom I've recommended in previous blog posts).  My favorite aspect of the book are the sample cases.  They offer quick exercises to build skills in the areas of Attunement, Buoyancy, Clarity (his proposed new ABC's of selling), Pitch, Improvise, and Serve - all of which improve our ability to move/influence others.

You can hear Dan talk about the research that went into his new book in this RSA podcast from February 26, 2013 in London, England.  He has the most viewed RSA Animate video of all time (Drive).  Keeping my  fingers crossed they strike gold again with an animation of his latest work.  In the meantime, the book is worth adding to your management library.