Connect, Influence, Persuade


Connect, Influence, Persuade

5 minute read | By Garry Crosby | Soft Skills | Published: 23/11/2023


Connect, Influence, and Persuade – 3 Keys to World-Class Executive Performance

One of my old RAF bosses used to say to me ‘it’s not what it is, Garry, it’s what it looks like.’

Perception, he argued, was more important than reality. When the RAF was deciding who to promote to the very highest echelons of the service, how you were perceived by others, rightly or wrongly, could be the deciding factor.

Although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, I think there were three skills that stood out as cornerstones of success: the ability to connect genuinely with others, influence thoughtfully, and persuade effectively. These skills are not just beneficial; they’re essential for any executive (or RAF officer!) who aspires to make an impact and drive change.

In business, mastering these can mean the difference between mediocrity and greatness.

Superficial Networking Sucks

The age-old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” holds a grain of truth, but it’s time to reframe this mindset.

World-class executives understand that networking is not a numbers game. Superficial networking is like scattering seeds on concrete; it’s fruitless. Instead, the focus should be on deepening your connections – fostering relationships that are rooted in mutual respect and genuine interest.

To achieve this, go beyond the exchange of business cards. Be curious, ask meaningful questions, and listen intently. Remember personal details and follow up on them. In group settings, seek to contribute value before you extract it.

By prioritising quality over quantity, you build a network that’s not just a list of contacts, but a web of strong allies.

You Can’t Control Another Human, So Influence Instead

Executives often face the temptation to exert control. However, seasoned leaders know that true power lies in influence, not authority. Influence allows you to guide outcomes and behaviours, creating a collaborative environment where ideas can flourish without the resentment that control often breeds.

To harness the power of influence, start by cultivating credibility. Demonstrate expertise and integrity in every interaction. Be consistent in your words and actions to build trust.

Listen as much as you speak, showing that you value others’ contributions. Utilise storytelling to make your ideas resonate on an emotional level.

Above all, influence requires empathy; understanding others’ desires and challenges enables you to align your objectives with their needs, creating a shared vision that moves people to action.

Never Compromise – How to Get to a Win/Win Situation

When it comes to negotiation, the old mindset of compromise as a necessary evil is outdated. World-class executives don’t simply compromise; they innovate to create win/win scenarios. These are outcomes where all parties feel they’ve gained, which is crucial for long-term relationship and business success.

The first step in persuasive negotiation is thorough preparation. Understand your position, the interests of the other party, and the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. With this knowledge, you can articulate clear, compelling arguments that showcase the benefits of your proposition.

Active listening is your most potent tool in negotiation. It helps you unearth underlying interests and create solutions that satisfy the core needs of both sides. When you encounter resistance, instead of pushing harder, seek to understand the reasons behind it. Often, acknowledging and addressing concerns can open the door to new avenues of agreement.

In addition, master the art of asking open-ended questions. These invite discussion and enable you to guide the conversation toward mutually beneficial solutions. Be willing to make the first move in trust-building, often referred to as the ‘norm of reciprocity,’ where one good deed begets another.

Effective persuasion also involves framing. Position your proposals within the context of the value they provide to the other party. Remember, it’s not about selling your solution; it’s about illustrating how your solution meets their needs.

When deadlock seems inevitable, don’t be afraid to innovate. Can you expand the pie instead of dividing it? Is there a value-add that costs you little but means a lot to the other party? By thinking creatively, you can often find paths to agreement that are not immediately obvious.

Finally, maintain a collaborative demeanour. Negotiations can become heated, but by staying calm and composed, you keep the dialogue constructive. Acknowledge differing viewpoints without diminishing them and steer the conversation back to common ground.

When both parties leave the table satisfied, you’ve not only secured an agreement but also strengthened a relationship that can yield dividends well into the future.

If you want to become a world-class executive, the ability to connect, influence, and persuade is paramount. These are not just techniques but philosophies that require genuine commitment to personal growth and understanding of human dynamics. As you refine these skills, you’ll become a leader who inspires, empowers, and achieves meaningful progress. Remember, the greatest executives are not remembered for the power they wielded but for the influence they had and the positive change they inspired.