For business owners and leaders, much of our role revolves around persuading others — partners, employees, investors, existing and potential clients and suppliers. As we have just begun a new year, this is an opportune time to set into motion your vision for the future of your business. Before you hit the start button though, take a step back and consider this. Are your business partner(s) and team onboard? Have they bought into your plans? If they haven’t, if you haven’t sufficiently persuaded them, the likelihood of success plummets.
As Stephen Denning, author of six successful books on leadership, leadership storytelling and management and member of the Advisory Board of the Drucker Forum, writes in The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling,
“Leadership is essentially a task of persuasion—of winning people’s hearts and minds.”
Denning goes onto say, “That is what leadership is centrally about—inspiring people to implement new ideas in the future. And not just grudgingly, but enthusiastically, because they believe in it. The conventional management approach to this challenge is to give people reason. Sadly, this faith in reason isn’t borne out in practice. Asking people to stop doing the things they know and love doing and start doing things that they don’t know much about amounts to asking them to adopt new identifies. The end result? Skepticism. Hostility. Sitting on the fence. Anything but enthusiastic implementation.” (The Leader‘s Guide to Storytelling – Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative)
I often counsel my coaching clients to remember this acronym — WIIFM. What’s in it for me? People need to be able to see themselves on this road you are asking them to travel. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to ask them to help create the story of this journey. By inviting your audience to help ‘invent’ the future, to participate in creating the map of where your company is going, they become engaged. This vision is no longer one that’s been handed to them, fait accompli, but one they have helped to create. Hearts and minds are won because they can envision themselves in this scenario.
“As a partner in and General Manager of Precision Hyundai, a Calgary, Alberta automotive dealership, I lead a large group of employees and oversee several managers in various departments. Kelly has been my coach for eight years. His advice to include my team in developing strategy has made a significant difference to the outcome of those plans. When everyone buys in and helps to create those plans, achieving the vision I have for the dealership becomes much more attainable”. ~~Andrew Robinson, Partner and General Manager, Precision Hyundai
In these competitive and challenging times, it’s critical to be effective. Imposing goals from the top down without buy-in can lead to an enormous waste of time and effort. Ensure you are positioned for success by involving and winning over your audience.