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Golden Oldies: Discriminating Leadership and Influence, Persuasion and Manipulation

Monday, May 8th, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of some of the best posts during that time.

This week is a two-fer, the first post was written in 2009, while the second is from 2015. Both contain links to other relevant posts. And both address a pet peeve of mine involving words — what else — their use, misuse and baggage.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

Discriminating Leadership

The ability to influence is not the sign of a leader; nor are visions, forceful opinions, board seats, titles or popularity. After all, if a high media profile was a sign of leadership then Britney Spears and Paris Hilton are leaders.

Millions of people are influenced and even inspired by writers and actors, but does that make them leaders? Angelina Jolie is considered a leader for her tireless charitable efforts as opposed to her screen credits; Rush Limbaugh may influence thousands, but I’ve never heard him called a leader.

It is the singular accomplishments; the unique actions that deserve the term, not the position you hold or just doing your job.

I knew a manager who thought his major accomplishment was managing his 100 person organization, but that wasn’t an accomplishment—that was his job. The accomplishment, and what qualified him as a leader, was doing it for four years with 3% turnover and every project finished on time and in budget.

Jim Stroup over at Managing Leadership (no longer available) wrote, “There is a strong and general instinct to ascribe positive values to what we have determined to be examples of leadership. In a world that so often confuses forcefulness with leadership, this can be – and frequently is, in fact, revealed to be – an exceedingly dangerous habit… There is a particularly frustrating – and increasing – tendency to characterize any practice or trait deemed “good” as “leadership.” When an executive exhibits behavior that is highly valued – or even expresses a perfectly ordinary one especially well – he or she is declared to be a “leader,” or to have demonstrated “leadership.”

Dozens of corporate chieftains who were held up for years as exemplifying visionary leadership now stand in line for bailout money—or dinner in jail.

There is no way to stop the word being used and abused, but you have the option to hear it for what it really is—a word with no baggage, no assumed meaning.

A word on which you focus your critical thinking instead of accepting it blindly, assuming that all its traits are positive or rejecting it based on nothing more than ideology.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aafromaa/4476152633Influence, Persuasion and Manipulation

Last week I had lunch with four managers, “Larry,” “Mandy,” “Paul” and “Ashish.” At one point the conversation turned to how the ability to influence people affected the ability to lead.

It was a lively conversation, but I stayed on the sidelines; noticing my silence, Ashish asked me what I thought.

Instead of responding I asked all of them what the difference was between influence, persuasion and manipulation.

This provoked another active discussion, with the upshot that while it was acceptable to influence people it was wrong to manipulate them. This time it was Mandy who asked what I thought.

I responded that I didn’t see a lot of difference between the three.

That shocked them all, but really upset Larry.

So I explained my thinking, which formed the basis of this post in 2011.

Influence = Manipulation

Every conversation about leadership talks about ‘influence’ and how to increase yours.

In a post at Forbes, Howard Scharlatt defines influence this way,

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. At one level, it is about compliance, about getting someone to go along with what you want them to do.

He goes on to describe three kinds of influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative, or influencing with head, heart and hands and talks about ‘personal influence’ and its importance in persuading people when authority is lacking.

A couple of years ago I wrote The Power of Words and said, “Personally, other than socially acceptable definitions, I don’t see a lot of difference between influence and manipulation,” and I still don’t.

I realize most people consider manipulation negative and influence positive, but they are just words.

I often hear that leaders are good people, while manipulators are bad people. But as I pointed out in another post,

leaders are not by definition “good;”

they aren’t always positive role models; and

one person’s “good” leader is another person’s demon.

Everyone believes they use their influence in a positive way, but when you persuade people to do [whatever] who are you to say that both the short and long-term outcome is positive for them?

Influence, persuasion, manipulation; call it what you will, just remember that it is power and be cautious when you wield it.

In spite of the heated disagreement I saw no reason to change my thinking.

I was surprised at the end of the discussion when even Larry commented that while it made sense that the words didn’t actually signal intent he still didn’t like it and wasn’t about to use them interchangeably, which made sense to me, because language carries the meaning (and the baggage) of the time and place in which it’s used.

Image credit: Anne Adrian

Golden Oldies: Leadership’s Future: the Key to Leadership and Life

Monday, May 9th, 2016

initiative1-300x176

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a Decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I wrote this six years ago, but it could have been 60 or 160 or longer. There isn’t now, nor has there ever been, a good substitute for initiative — and I doubt there ever will be in the future. Read other Golden Oldies here.

Monday I wrote that so-called leadership skills are actually the skills everyone needs to live a satisfying life and to that end they are well worth developing.

I also said I would share the most important trait of leadership—and life.

It’s Initiative.

Initiative is the number one key leadership ingredient.

More so than vision or influence, it’s initiative that puts you in the forefront of any action, large of small.

Initiative is what

  • separates the doers from the observers;
  • stokes creativity and innovation;
  • drives entrepreneurial activity at all levels; and
  • makes the world a better place.

Initiative isn’t about schooling, although education can enhance it; it’s not about birth or clothes or cool. It’s not about networking or connections or followers on Twitter.

It’s about awareness; about noticing what needs to be done and doing it whether or not anybody is around to notice; doing it whether or not there is credit and kudos.

Initiative doesn’t wait for someone else to lead the way, nor does it play Monday morning quarterback to initiative taken by others, instead it actively contributes to that initiative.

Initiative doesn’t wait to occupy a certain position before becoming active, preferring to constantly seek ways in which it can contribute.

I believe that initiative is latent in every person, but it’s up to each individual to make it active.

Image credit: business mans on sxc.hu

Influence and Facts

Monday, June 8th, 2015

7968940198_ee718656ea_m

How often are your actions influenced by what someone else says they heard?

I think most of us have a tendency to accept that kind of commentary, especially when other outcomes are unlikely.

The recent experience of Anthony Perosi is a shinning example of just how costly relying on second-hand information can be.

Like millions of others, Perosi plays the NY Lottery.

A few days after the Powerball drawing on March 14, Mr. Perosi, 56, was eating lunch at a restaurant, where someone told him that the 7-Eleven on Page Avenue had sold a Powerball winner.

“I says, ‘I’ve played at Page Avenue 7-Eleven,’ ” Mr. Perosi recalled on Thursday.

“She was like, ‘Forget about it.’ ” She heard a schoolteacher had won. She told Mr. Perosi, “You didn’t win nothing.”

So rather than checking himself he accepted what Sandy had heard as fact.

But his truck breaking down in April gave Perosi the impetus to check himself.

To his total astonishment the winning numbers were his.

His and the IRS, to the tune of 136 million dollars

The lesson here is that the next time you start to accept what someone states as fact, it pays to check for yourself.

Sometimes it pays very well indeed.

Flickr image credit: Mark Morgan

Wally Bock (My Hero) on Leadership

Monday, June 1st, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/5146608442/Wally Bock is one of the smartest guys I know on the subject of being a boss. I find his approaches on everything to be based in the kind of common sense that is easily recognized as being bang-on.

If I knew Wally better, and he didn’t live on the other coast, I would have kissed him for his post last Friday.

But,  since that isn’t possible, I’m reposting it here — in total gratitude.

Leadership “wisdom” that makes me crazy

May 28, 2015 03:00 pm | Wally Bock

Did you know that there are almost 300 books that Amazon thinks contain “leadership secrets?” Do a Google search for the phrase and you’ll get more than nine million results in about half a second. That makes me crazy.

We’ve studied leaders and leadership for millennia. Is it really possible that there’s a secret out there that we haven’t uncovered? This sounds to me like those “medical breakthroughs” that are announced in infomercials.

Those thoughts started me thinking about other “leadership” things that make me crazy. Here they are in no particular order.

Anyone can lead

Really? In theory maybe, but in real life there are people who don’t want the accountability. Others are pathologically afraid of confrontation. And there are others who won’t make decisions. Anyone can have influence, but not everyone is willing to lead.

Don’t bring me a problem unless you bring a solution.

Oh right! If I see a problem and can’t find a solution you don’t want to know about it? Do you really think it’s better to go on in blissful ignorance until the problem blows up all over you? Besides, problems are often where progress starts.

That stupid bus!

Getting the right people on the bus and then deciding where to go sounds good, until you think about it. First off, most managers don’t get that luxury. They have to achieve the goals they’re given with the people they’ve got. But more fundamentally, how can you know the characteristics of “the right people” until you know where you’re going?

For the record, this might make sense for some start-ups. It did for Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard.

Leaders versus Managers

Argh! I don’t care what Warren Bennis said. It’s not about people. It’s about different kinds of work. If you’re responsible for the performance of a group you have to lead and you have to manage and you have to supervise. You don’t get a choice.

For the record, Peter Drucker never talked about leaders and managers as separate kinds of people, but he did discuss leadership and management.

Flickr image credit: US Army

Internal Leadership

Monday, April 20th, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101181388@N07/14876534990

Do you equate leadership to influence?

Does being labeled an “influencer” by LinkedIn or other social media make you a leader?

Not really.

True leadership is internal.

It’s a function of your MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™).  

It starts by knowing both yourself and your MAP.

Knowing yourself refers to knowing what you’ve done.

Knowing your MAP means knowing why you did it.

Knowing both allows you to accurately evaluate where you are and where you’re going.

That knowledge is the rudder with which you can chart and achieve any course you choose.

Image credit: Jevgenijs Slihto

Influence, Persuasion and Manipulation

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aafromaa/4476152633

Last week I had lunch with four managers, “Larry,” “Mandy,” “Paul” and “Ashish.” At one point the conversation turned to how the ability to influence people affected the ability to lead.

It was a lively conversation, but I stayed on the sidelines; noticing my silence, Ashish asked me what I thought.

Instead of responding I asked all of them what the difference was between influence, persuasion and manipulation.

This provoked another active discussion, with the upshot that while it was acceptable to influence people it was wrong to manipulate them. This time it was Mandy who asked what I thought.

I responded that I didn’t see a lot of difference between the three.

That shocked them all, but really upset Larry.

So I explained my thinking, which formed the basis of this post in 2011.

Influence = Manipulation

Every conversation about leadership talks about ‘influence’ and how to increase yours.

In a post at Forbes, Howard Scharlatt defines influence this way,

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. At one level, it is about compliance, about getting someone to go along with what you want them to do.

He goes on to describe three kinds of influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative, or influencing with head, heart and hands and talks about ‘personal influence’ and its importance in persuading people when authority is lacking.

A couple of years ago I wrote The Power of Words and said, “Personally, other than socially acceptable definitions, I don’t see a lot of difference between influence and manipulation,” and I still don’t.

I realize most people consider manipulation negative and influence positive, but they are just words.

I often hear that leaders are good people, while manipulators are bad people. But as I pointed out in another post,

  • leaders are not by definition “good;”
  • they aren’t always positive role models; and
  • one person’s “good” leader is another person’s demon.

Everyone believes they use their influence in a positive way, but when you persuade people to do [whatever] who are you to say that both the short and long-term outcome is positive for them?

Influence, persuasion, manipulation; call it what you will, just remember that it is power and be cautious when you wield it.

In spite of the heated disagreement I saw no reason to change my thinking.

I was surprised at the end of the discussion when even Larry commented that while it made sense that the words didn’t actually signal intent he still didn’t like it and wasn’t about to use them interchangeably, which made sense to me, because language carries the meaning (and the baggage) of the time and place in which it’s used.

Image credit: Anne Adrian

Things Are Not Always What They Seem: Influence

Monday, August 11th, 2014

illusion

As someone who has lived more decades than most of my readers I can remember when having influence wasn’t considered a viable life goal.

But that was then…

Not only is it an acceptable goal, there are sites like Klout that track your influence and even companies and managers dumb enough to hire based on a candidate’s Klout score.

These days, influence is measured based on important criteria, such as number of friends and followers, tweets and other commenting and web presence—an impressive way to measure, to be sure.

As influencers become more intentional and influencees less discerning I thought this was a good time to repost something I wrote several years ago.

Influence = Manipulation

Every conversation about leadership talks about ‘influence’ and how to increase yours.

In a post at Forbes, Howard Scharlatt defines influence this way,

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. At one level, it is about compliance, about getting someone to go along with what you want them to do.

He goes on to describe three kinds of influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative, or influencing with head, heart and hands and talks about ‘personal influence’ and its importance in persuading people when authority is lacking.

A couple of years ago I wrote The Power of Words and said, “Personally, other than socially acceptable definitions, I don’t see a lot of difference between influence and manipulation,” and I still don’t.

I realize most people consider manipulation negative and influence positive, but they are just words.

I often hear that leaders are good people, while manipulators are bad people. But as I pointed out in another post,

  • leaders are not by definition “good;”
  • they aren’t always positive role models; and
  • one person’s “good” leader is another person’s demon.

Everyone believes that they use their influence in a positive way, but when you persuade people to do whatever who are you to say that the outcome is positive for them?

Influence, persuasion, manipulation; call it what you will, just remember that it is power and be cautious when you wield it.

And if you are on the receiving end of influence, be it active or passive, you’ll see a higher ROI by paying attention and being mindful of intent.

Image credit: Anonymous

If the Shoe Fits: Influencers

Friday, August 19th, 2011

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

3829103264_9cb64b9c62_m Kevin Spencer http://www.flickr.com/photos/vek/3829103264/Influence isn’t about your online ranking or the strength of your brand, although they contribute.

Influence is about effect.

The effect your words or actions have on those exposed to them.

Yesterday I linked to an article in which Penelope Trunk said that it’s a bad idea for founders to be of different genders and because of her influence dozens of founders are probably rethinking their startup plans.

There is a common arrogance among influencers to generalize their opinion and present it as a fact applicable to all and the more successful the influencer the greater the arrogance.

But from day one every founder has influence, before success and beyond the expected, so even a casual word can cause trouble.

A founder CEO I know, whose original education years before was engineering, had a habit of occasionally strolling through engineering to see what was going on. One day he commented that he wouldn’t do a design the way the team was doing it. It was a casual, throw-away comment, one he had forgotten five minutes later, but it devastated the design team. The CEO had no clue to the havoc he wrought and it took the vp of engineering, who was co-founder, hours to settle them down. He then told the CEO not to talk to the team and banned him from the department.

What those on the receiving end of influencers need to realize is that no matter how brilliant or experienced someone is they are still voicing an opinion. And as valuable as the opinion may be, it should never be swallowed whole, because opinions are subjective.

They are the product of that individual’s MAP, which itself is a product of upbringing and experience. Even someone else having exactly the same background and experience would not have identical MAP because each person processes differently and has different inherent characteristics.

Influence comes with responsibilities—how well do you handle yours?

Option Sanity™ reflects your influence.

Come visit Option Sanity for an easy-to-understand, simple-to-implement stock process.  It’s so easy a CEO can do it.

Warning.
Do not attempt to use Option Sanity™ without a strong commitment to business planning, financial controls, honesty, ethics, and “doing the right thing.” Use only as directed.
Users of Option Sanity may experience sudden increases in team cohesion and worker satisfaction. In cases where team productivity, retention and company success is greater than typical, expect media interest and invitations as keynote speaker.

Image credit: kevinspencer

Ducks in a Row: Leadership, Influence and Control

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

There is much talk these days among what Jim Stroup calls the modern leadership movement (MLM) that leadership is all about influence.

What I’ve never seen is any mention that influence is about control.

Influence moves you in the direction desired by the leader, essentially controlling your choices.

Also faulty is the assumption that the influence ‘leaders’ exert is always for ‘good’; as I keep saying, assumptions are bad.

In this case the assumption is that a ‘leader’ you like/trust/respect won’t lead you in a direction that encourages you to do something you wouldn’t do on your own if you thought of it.

That is a faulty assumption at best and a destructive one at worst.

To paraphrase an old saying that has served me well in my life, consider the source of the influence sans assumptions before allowing it to affect you.

In other words, listen objectively to the words and consider what they mean.

One trick to doing that is to pretend someone you would never allow to influence you said the same thing. How would you react?

If you would pull back and say, ‘no way’, then it should be ‘no way’ even if the source is someone you like/trust/respect.

Fickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zedbee/103147140/

Influence = Manipulation

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Every conversation about leadership talks about ‘influence’ and how to increase yours.

In a post at Forbes, Howard Scharlatt defines influence this way,

Influence is, simply put, the power and ability to personally affect others’ actions, decisions, opinions or thinking. At one level, it is about compliance, about getting someone to go along with what you want them to do.

He goes on to describe three kinds of influencing tactics: logical, emotional and cooperative, or influencing with head, heart and hands and talks about ‘personal influence’ and its importance in persuading people when authority is lacking.

A couple of years ago I wrote The Power of Words and said, “Personally, other than socially acceptable definitions, I don’t see a lot of difference between influence and manipulation,” and I still don’t.

I realize most people consider manipulation negative and influence positive, but they are just words.

I often hear that leaders are good people, while manipulators are bad people. But as I pointed out in another post,

  • leaders are not by definition “good;”
  • they aren’t always positive role models; and
  • one person’s “good” leader is another person’s demon.

Everyone believes that they use their influence in a positive way, but when you persuade people to do whatever who are you to say that the outcome is positive for them?

Influence, persuasion, manipulation; call it what you will, just remember that it is power and be cautious when you wield it.

Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/363547

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