IVP - Online Pulpit - Persuasion - A Critical Need of a Leader

March 1, 2007

Persuasion - A Critical Need of a Leader

Some chief executives, coaches and parents have a knack for inspiring people. They know they can’t really motivate others; people motivate themselves. But they know how to turn the key that makes people achieve. Persuasion means drawing or pulling people in the direction you want them to move, instead of pushing people in the direction you want them to go.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower understood this principle. In one cabinet meeting, he demonstrated the art of persuasion by placing a piece of string on a table. “Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish,” he explained. “Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.”

It is an attitude more than a technique: Give to others what they want, and they will give you what you want.

1. Begin with an objective view of reality. Don’t hide the facts. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t mince words. Examine the situation, then call it as you see it. Sometimes, we have to be shocked with brute reality. Fact: If we skip work enough times, we will get fired. Fact: If we don’t do our homework, we will fail.

2. Identify with people. In order to motivate people, we have to identify with them. It is no longer their problem. It is our problem. When we blame and criticize, we squelch motivation. When their goal becomes ours, we motivate.

When Lee Iacocca became chairman and CEO of Chrysler in 1979, he knew he would have to ask employees to take a pay cut. So Iacocca called a meeting of key management and union executives, and announced that for the next year his salary would be $1. He identified with the workers, saying in effect, “We are in this together. And together we can make it through.” The gambit worked. Later, Iacocca said, “When everybody is going through the chute together … you can move a mountain.”

3. Emphasize the benefits. People are experts at cost-benefit analysis. Everyone asks what’s in it for me. Explain the benefits—give them a good reason—and they will follow where you lead.

Think with me for a moment. People don’t buy a newspaper; they buy news. Spectacles aren’t purchased, but better vision. Not a single person wanted a drill; they were buying holes. People buy things that produce good results. Highlight the benefits.

4. Don’t underestimate character. People don’t follow plans or visions or mission statements. People follow people. Personal character is the most effective means of persuasion.

When France fell to Hitler in June 1940, Germany immediately prepared to invade Britain, and the prospects for a successful British resistance were bleak. Today, England owes its freedom to Winston Churchill. He single-handedly breathed hope into a dispirited and frightened nation during those months.

5. Action precedes motivation. Most often, it is not feeling or desire but action that precedes motivation. We should not wait until we feel like doing what needs to be done. Quite possibly, we may never feel like it. Instead, we need to “prime the pump” by taking a small step, even if we are not in the mood.

6. Catch God’s dream for our lives. The fuel of dreams feeds the fires of motivation. When we do what God wants us to do, like the Energizer Bunny we keep going and going and going.

Like Count von Zinzendorf, Christian leaders should have an eternal focus on Christ: “I have one passion: it is he, he alone.” We endure hardship, setbacks and disappointments because we believe it is for God’s glory.

Ultimately our power of persuasion will only be as strong as our relationship with Christ.

Posted by Rick Ezell at March 1, 2007 9:46 AM Bookmark and Share

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