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Executive Leadership Podcast #183: Increasing your Ability to Influence and Persuade

April 12, 2022
Executive Leadership Podcast #183: Increasing your Ability to Influence and Persuade

Are you maximizing your ability to influence and persuade others? Today, Chris and Perry talk about things a leader can do to increase their ability to influence and persuade and teach their team to do the same.

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Perry Holley: Welcome to the Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley at Maxwell Leadership, facilitator and coach. 

Chris Goede: And I’m Chris Goede, Executive Vice President with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome and thank you for joining. If you want to learn more about our 5 Levels of Leadership, public workshops, maybe your team or your organization is not at the place where you guys can do it together as a team or bring one of our team members in, and you just want to go through it yourself and experience that content from one of our executive facilitators, like Perry. Then if you’ll visit, if you’ll fill out the form there, we’ll get you more information in regards to some of that leadership training that you can participate in. 

Well, today’s topic is titled Increasing Your Ability to Influence and Persuade. 

Perry Holley: Yes. 

Chris Goede: Yes, I like this. Well, we put on an event every year called Live 2 Lead and one of our guest speakers this past year was Ed Mylett. 

Perry Holley: Yes. 

Chris Goede: And he talked about this, and man, you and I were just kind of reliving. 

Perry Holley: I was really energized by this talk and thought he was … I did not know Ed. I did have his book. He’s got a small book, easy to read, has lots of great stuff, but he made some really good points and we’ve been using it with couple of our clients. 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: I took a lot away from it. 

Chris Goede: Yeah, it was really good. It’s great. So we really loved how he talked about increasing influence and persuasion and what that looks like and how to go about doing that. I know you’re always teaching and speaking about influence, how to gain it, how not to lose it. What are we talking about today? Is that what you’re think? Bringing some of Ed’s points out? 

Perry Holley: Yeah, I thought he was terrific. The whole L2L event is a great investment of time. I think if you look that up on the Maxwell Leadership website, you can find that. 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: I think it was October of this year, it’ll come around again- 

Chris Goede: It is. 

Perry Holley: But well worth your time. Lots of great speakers and content, but Ed had this lesson on how to increase influence and persuasion and we began sharing, as I mentioned, with a couple of our clients and it has really resonated with leaders at all levels about some of the concepts Ed brought, so I thought you and I could bounce some of those around today, share them with our podcast audience, and see if there’s some value in this. 

Chris Goede: Yeah, absolutely. I love it. Well, the first point that Ed got us really thinking about that day was you make people feel something every single time you interact with them. You make them feel something when you come into their presence, so are you aware of what you’re making them feel? They probably don’t see you the way you see yourself. Let me take the word probably out. They don’t see you the way that you see yourself, but you’re making them feel something. 

Perry Holley: Right. I totally smiled when he was talking about this, even just now thinking about it, you said it that years ago, I was struggling with a group that reported to me and I just mentioned it to my wife and she said, “Well, you know you’re very intimidating.” 

I went, “What? I’m not intimidating. I’m nicest guy on the planet.” 

She said, “No, no, you’re intimidating.” 

I said, “Okay, tell me more.” 

And she says, “Well, you’re tall,” I’m big, “And you have a deep voice and you’re stern. You look stern.” 

I thought, “Stern, what are you even talking about?” So I asked, “Okay, tell me more. What could I do not to be so intimidating?” 

She said, “Well, you’re a different person when you smile.”I thought, “Well, I really don’t smile that much. It doesn’t seem fitting for this executive role that I’m in. You don’t walk around smiling. How executive-ish does that look?” 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: I thought, “What a silly, silly thing, Perry.” I wrote a whole lesson on mind your face and Ed kind of hit that exact point to say that just by starting out by telling your face you’re happy every now and then to let people know that you’re a different person when you smile. I wondered besides smiling and minding your face, the way I say it, what do you think could cause people to see you more positively, do you think? 

Chris Goede: Well, listen. We took a poll real quick with the three of us that are in the room besides you, and we agree you are still intimidating. That’s why team’s sitting over there. 

Perry Holley: [inaudible 00:04:31]. 

Chris Goede: I think another thing that comes to mind in addition to this is you think about the normal body language and how you greet people, but I think tone has a lot to do with this too. 

Perry Holley: Yeah. 

Chris Goede: And leaders, when you begin thinking about not only what you’re speaking about or communicating, but how you’re going about doing that. I think those are some things you need to keep in mind. 

Ed also mentioned that influence, I thought this was really interesting, influence is energy. People notice how much energy and passion in everything you do. Now. When we say that, everybody creates energy in different ways, so we’re not saying come in with your hair on fire, yelling and screaming and kicking your legs, but they can feel and sense that energy in what you’re doing. 

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Perry Holley: Yeah. I was actually on the call this morning with a group and we were talking about this exact subject. One of the women said that she likes to mirror her energy level, they deal in a customer facing environment, but she said, “I used to come in really high power, high energy, and it kind of overwhelmed or intimidated people, so now I’m trying to keep my energy high, but mirror it to the customer.” But I always refer to it, just to remind my self, was EIEO, energy in, energy out, and that what I generally put in, I’m modeling for my team the energy that I want to see and generally what I’m going to get back from them. I know you may not always feel positive and upbeat, you may not feel like you’re at the top of your game, whatever, but the question I’m really thinking about for me is can I still put on a positive energy with people so that it does just builds your influence with others. I’m not influenced by low energy- 

Chris Goede: No. Eeyore’s. 

Perry Holley: Yeah. Eeyore people. Are you energy energized by low energy people? 

Chris Goede: No. Yeah, no. 

Perry Holley: Yeah, no. 

Chris Goede: No, spot on. When you think about how you make people feel and how much energy you bring, it really just makes me think about how approachable are you as a leader. 

Perry Holley: Oh, I see. Yeah. 

Chris Goede: It’s one of the things that I learned early on in my leadership journey, and this is from John directly and I’ve had the privilege of serving on his team for 20 plus years now, was you say, “Hey, when we’re walking through a crowd, we’re going to walk slowly through the crowd and we’re just going to smile.” I tend to put my head down and I go, “I’m going from A to B-” 

Perry Holley: Plowing. 

Chris Goede: “And I got to go and I don’t need anybody talking to me about it. I got a project.” 

He’s like, “No, no, no, no, no. Do it with a smile.” That just creates this thing where I’ve seen John do it for so many years. It doesn’t matter where we are, it doesn’t matter what culture, country, it doesn’t matter. He just slowly walks through the crowd, very approachable, he’s got a smiles face, and people come up and speak to him all the time about it. 

It made me also think about, I do this sometimes at the airport. Now, it’s a little bit hard these days since we’re all wearing masks, but I swear I will walk through the airport at times when we didn’t wear masks and I will when we take masks off again, and I just will smile at somebody as they’re walking by me until they smile at me. It’s just like, “Hey, it’s okay to smile,” because I think that just creates something for somebody that makes you kind of approachable in that and that creates a different energy and you can see them kind of light up. It’s something that I’ll do periodically, but you can see that energy shift from you to them. 

Perry Holley: Did you clear that thing up with TSA about you smiling at them? 

Chris Goede: No. 

Perry Holley: Are you off- 

Chris Goede: Yes. 

Perry Holley: Probation yet with them? 

Chris Goede: Yes. I’m not off probation. 

Perry Holley: Okay. Smiling at the airport is good. Just be careful. 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: Do that. Yeah. I think approachable, that’s a fantastic point because your influence is really kind of tied to your approachableness that if people don’t feel like they can approach you and it is a lot about what you said, smiling, energy. Are you open? Are you welcoming? Do they find you trustworthy? Do they find you engaged? Are you present? People are watching, they know these things. 

I went to have my car serviced last week and they had service advisors in the service bays and I just was watching, observing as I was walking toward, I needed to pick one of the bays to go into and heads down, not paying attention, not looking around. Then one guy had his head up, eye contact, looked at me, smiled, and looked very welcoming, and so where do you think I went? I went straight to him. 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: I don’t know if they get commissioned or how they get paid, but my goodness, it was so different from the others- 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: That it just felt like that was an approachable person that made me feel in a kind of an intimidating place with all this going on, wow. That’s where I should go is toward that person. 

Chris Goede: Good. 

Perry Holley: Ed had also mentioned that people with influence who can persuade are evangelical about their cause. How did you interpret that? 

Chris Goede: Yeah. If I’m being honest, it caught me off guard when he used that word and this is a business event at Live 2 Lead and we bring in business speakers. When you hear the word evangelical, you tend to hear that on a faith friendly standpoint, maybe in a church somewhere. 

Perry Holley: Right. 

Chris Goede: I was like, “Wait a minute.” He caught me off guard, he grabbed my attention, I loved it. But what he began to explain was this is when you believe so deeply in what you’re doing- 

Perry Holley: Right. 

Chris Goede: That you’re just evangelical about it. Then he kind of unpacked the passion behind it. There’s really two things here. Do you know your cause and then do you believe deeply in that cause? Is it really rooted inside you? For you to be influential and for you to teach those on your team to be influential, you need to be clear on your cause and then believe deeply in that. They will see right through you. But I thought it was an interesting word choice that he used. 

Perry Holley: Yeah. 

Chris Goede: It was great technique from a facilitation and a keynote, because it grabbed my attention on that platform. But man, it’s just the fact that they believe deeply in it. 

Perry Holley: Yeah. He said that people don’t have to believe what you say, they just have to believe that you believe- 

Chris Goede: That you believe. 

Perry Holley: What you say. 

Chris Goede: That’s right. That’s powerful. 

Perry Holley: I took a lot of people taking notes on that, is that it’s very powerful that you’re evangelical, you believe deeply in that cause. I think you might be surprised. I’ve been doing this with a number of groups, even like I mentioned earlier today and I said, “If I walked around behind you in your department and I asked the people on your team, ‘What’s our cause?’ What would they say?” 

This one guy today goes, “That’s a deep question.” 

I go, “Well, it’s an interesting one because what do you think they’d say? Is that, ‘We’re going to make another buck? We’re we’re here to make money?'” I said, “I guarantee you, that’s not your cause. Your cause is much bigger than that from which you will make money. However, the money is not-” 

Chris Goede: Mm. That’s so good. 

Perry Holley: “How many people on team think that money is the cause?” I think I can be evangelical, believe deeply in what we’re doing, but I think the bigger question is how clear are you on what we’re doing? It kind of reminded me of the Jeff Henderson in our new content piece on what are you known for? 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: What do you want to be known for? 

Chris Goede: That’s right. 

Perry Holley: What are you known for? How do you see that? 

Chris Goede: Well, for me, when the cause comes up, I love that you’re having these group conversations, by the way. Perry has referenced this a couple times today. One of the things I know we enjoy doing the most is these round table, these group leadership conversations where we’ll bring a video to the front end and it may maybe John, it may not and- 

Perry Holley: Six minutes, seven minutes. 

Chris Goede: Yeah and then facilitate a conversation where, man, if we go around and find out what is your cause? I think where Ed was going on this and something that I think is really interesting again, and how he placed these words behind what he’s doing is that he said, “We’re all selling the same thing when it comes to the cause. We’re all in the same business. We just, we all have different products.” 

Perry Holley: Mm. 

Chris Goede: He said, “What we’re selling is happiness.” 

I was like, “Okay, what’s going on here? We got evangelical, now we got the work happiness and we’re at a business event?” 

Perry Holley: He said Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A are same business. They sell happiness. 

Chris Goede: That’s right. The more I’ve thought about it, the more, this is so true, that doesn’t matter the product or the service you sell, you are selling happiness to your customer, to your end user, to your team member, by the way. If you can figure out what makes your clients happy, that’s your cause. If you can figure out … Thinking about this example with the company you were talking about this morning. I know the business that they’re in and I know where that service comes from and that’s their cause. They solve those problems for their customers, that makes customers happy, that is their cause. It’s a lot easier to be evangelical when you know that cause and you know the why behind what you guys are doing and drives that customer happiness. 

Perry Holley: Yeah. Well, I think about it a lot as we’re teaching The 5 Levels of Leadership. You go from level one, I’m got the position, not title of leadership. I don’t want to stay there long. I want to get to level two, which is about developing influence with you and building that relationship and thinking, well, we mentioned many times people are watching you all the time. 

Chris Goede: Yeah. 

Perry Holley: People in your circle of influence work, home, community, they’re watching you and they’re trying to determine, “Are they going to give you permission to lead them? Are they going to give you permission to influence them?” I think this lesson really, I think was a great one. If you think, “Well, how do I build influence?” Well, you’re making people feel something. Are you being intentional about what you make them feel? You’re bringing some level of energy to the event, is it the right level of energy for the folks? Do you know your cause? Are you evangelical about what you do? Do you believe heavily what you do because I’m heavily influenced by people who believe in what they’re doing, whether I even believe in what they’re doing or not, I’m influenced by them because of how they bring that. Why don’t you wrap it up for us? 

Chris Goede: Here’s the wrap up. I think Perry just gave us three or four great questions that you need to ask your team at your next team meeting. Go through those questions and just throw them out and say, “Hey, I got a few questions for you today,” and see what type of answers you get. Even Perry talked about it a little bit ago, how he modeled it this morning with that team? Like, “What’s the cause? What if we went around and said, ‘What’s our cause?'” Begin asking questions of your team similar to this and I promise you, the conversation that you’ll have with your team will be extremely dynamic. 

The last thing I’ll say is, listen, make sure the reason you’re doing this is that you have the right motive behind it. When people hear the word persuasion, sometimes it’s even a little bit negative than influence, but there’s a fine line with both the word influence and persuasion to make sure that you have the right motive behind what you’re doing. That motive has to be what I like to say, kind of this three-headed monster. It’s got to be good for the individual, it’s got to be good for the organization, and it can be good for you as a leader, but make sure that it has those three prongs- 

Perry Holley: Wow. 

Chris Goede: In order for it to be the right persuasion and the right influence. 

Perry Holley: Right. Well, well said. Great add. Well, thank you for joining us and just a reminder, if you’d like to learn more about those 5 Levels of Leadership, any of our other offerings, if you’d like to download the Learner Guide from today’s lesson or if you’d like to leave us a question or a comment, we love hearing from you. We’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us. That’s all today from the Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast. 

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