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education + consulting
A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence
A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influencing Business People
By PAUL GLEN and MARIA MCMANUS
One of the most poorly kept secrets of technology leadership is that we geek leaders tend to lack influence in our organizations, especially IT Leaders. You’ve probably noticed that few really seem to have the clout that you would think comes with their lofty titles, and a plausible explanation for this phenomenon is not apparent. But if you’re interested in climbing the ladder, and being effective once you arrive at a higher rung, you need a useful framework for understanding why this might be happening and what you can do about, so you can take your place in the inner circle of the organization. In this paper, we’re going to look in depth at: What influence is. Why it’s especially challenging for geek leaders. Specific skills you need to become more influential.
In This Paper
WHY WE LACK INFLUENCE
Influence vs. power The preconditions of influence Facts aren’t enough 3 4 5
A GEEK-FRIENDLY APPROACH
Reduce our resistance: Become willing Reduce their resistance: Foster openness 7 10
SOFT SKILLS FOR INFLUENCE
Skill #1: Listen for what’s important Skill # 2: Describe a rosy future Skill # 3: Expose your desire Skill #4: Translate facts into stories Skill #5: Restore Trust 15 21 23 25 28
Both the explanation and the skills that we highlight are geared specifically toward people with technical backgrounds, because a lot of the generic approaches have not served us well.
Leading Geeks is an education and consulting firm dedicated to unlocking the value of technical people. By shining light on the different worldviews of technical and non-technical people, we help solve age-old problems in new ways and uncover untapped potential for productivity, creativity and innovation. To explore how we might help you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2013, Leading Geeks Company. | www.leadinggeeks.com | 310-694-0450
education + consulting
A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence
Is it really that bad?
Unfortunately, it is. At all levels of IT management, from top to bottom, leaders struggle to influence people in their organizations. You have probably experienced firsthand the frustration of not being able to get through to your colleagues, or wondered why your seat at the table seems to come with its own sound-cancelling force field. It’s puzzling since they hire us because we’re the experts, and yet we wonder why:
They make decisions without consulting us. They don’t listen when they do consult us.
We end up feeling confused, frustrated and disrespected, and we wonder, “what’s wrong with them?” Or worse, “what’s wrong with me?” The pain of disrespect is bad enough, coupled with the confusion of why it’s happening and what to do about it is almost debilitating. You are not alone in this experience. Every few years, there’s a new study accompanied by a flurry of headlines reminding us about IT leaders’ persistent lack of influence. Here are a few samples generated by a recent Gartner study:
The confusion of why it’s happening and what to do about it is almost debilitating.
“CIOs dismissed as techies without business savvy by CEOs” Computerworld UK April 12, 2012 “Why CIOs Are Last Among Equals” Sloan Management Review May 20, 2012 “Most CIOs on the board but have little business influence ” Computerworld UK July 20, 2012
What’s been tried to fix this?
As geek leaders, we are not ones to leave a problem unsolved. We have been diligently working on this problem for a generation. We have invested countless hours learning to “speak the language of the business” with the assumption that if we speak their language we will be heard and our influence embraced. We’ve gotten MBAs and other advanced degrees hoping that the credentials will bolster our stature as authorities, which in turn will make people listen more. We have devised ingenious metrics to measure and prove our worth, with the assumption that when people understand how important we are to the mission of the organization, they will listen. But year after year, very little changes.
Copyright 2013, Leading Geeks Company. | www.leadinggeeks.com | 310-694-0450
education + consulting
A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence
Why we lack influence
Perhaps nothing changes because we haven’t grasped the underlying reasons for why we have lacked influence for so long. These reasons have been hiding in places where geeks tend not to look … in the realm of human relationships, trust and empathy. In our work exploring the worldview differences between geeks and non-geeks, we have uncovered unexpected insights about why IT professionals tend to lack influence. The primary reasons include:
We don’t know the difference between influence and power. We fail to cultivate the preconditions for being influential. We try to use techniques that are more suited to sales people than geeks.
Influence vs. power
The biggest reason that we don’t have much influence is that we fundamentally misunderstand what it is. We have trouble, as most people do, distinguishing between influence and power. When we lead discussions with senior IT leaders or groups of CIOs and ask them to describe the difference between influence and power, they quickly become flustered and confused by their lack of clarity. They usually assert that both are a means of getting people to do what you want. And in this model, influence becomes a kind of watered down version of power, a kind of power-lite. With power, you just tell people what to do and they do it because you control the consequences of their compliance. With influence, you ask, cajole, or convince them to do it instead. But that model is incorrect. Power and influence are not different means for achieving the same end. They are quite distinct from one another, and if you want to expand your ability to influence people, you need to understand the difference:
Influence is the ability to affect another person’s inner state .
Power is the ability to affect another person’s observable behavior. If I’m wielding
power, I have the means and will to coerce you to do what I want. I may do it through authority, control of rewards or threats of punishment, but regardless, it is coercive.
Influence is the ability to affect another person’s inner state … what they think, feel and believe. If I’m exerting influence, I’m trying to change your inner experience, how you
think or feel about something. Perhaps you may do something differently because of your internal change, but it’s not because I “made you do it.”
Copyright 2013, Leading Geeks Company. | www.leadinggeeks.com | 310-694-0450
Let’s say you were picked to sit on that jury. Why? Because we prefer to believe that facts should be influential. your inner state is everything. And since we have an aversion meddling with people’s inner lives. over budget. we can now see how the requirements for exercising influence is very different than simply having a carrot or a stick. grumbling all the way. you show up at jury duty. with their well-funded police force. As you can see. could nab you the next time you run a stop sign and the consequences could be severe. Specifically.com | 310-694-0450 4 . he wanted me to analyze why. we are neither willing nor particularly capable of doing it well. Facts aren’t enough Early in Paul’s consulting career he had a painful lesson in which facts. So despite the huge inconvenience. your inner state is irrelevant. not people. All they care about is your compliance. | www. the targets are completely different. With influence. And you know that the state. They must be open. We rarely consider whether or not people are open to us. feel and/or believe differently.leadinggeeks. You must be able to move them to think. the projects were still late. You must be willing to change their inner state. Now you are listening to the lawyers present their case. and what principles of right and wrong you should apply. trying to sway your opinion toward their side in whatever way they can. or failing altogether. The hard truth is that many of us technical leaders lack influence because we don’t meet the preconditions of influence. Copyright 2013. All they can do is influence how you view the facts. Here’s his story: “A CIO hired me to fix his department's software development process problems. But these lawyers have no power over you. Leading Geeks Company. You know that according to the laws in your state if you don’t show up you could be fined or even jailed. you must be willing and able. logic and reason completely failed him. despite having implemented elaborate processes.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Let’s look at an everyday example of the difference between power and influence. You pick up your mail and you see that you have been summoned to jury duty. With power. whether you’re happy to serve or not. And the police and judge really couldn’t care less what your inner state might be. The preconditions of influence Given that influence is about affecting someone’s inner state. how you feel about the defendants. There are three basic preconditions that must be met by you and the people you want to influence: They must be open to being influenced by you.
He agreed with absolutely everything I said … until I got to the recommendations. While this may be fine for a salesperson trying to close a single deal. odd and off-putting. receptive and pleased. In short. Many useful and widely read books have been written on influence and persuasion. he had. So what went wrong? Ill-fitting advice Geeks tend to overemphasize the importance of facts. I realized I hadn’t prepared him emotionally to accept that what he thought were process problems were really people problems. Hadn’t I laid out a rational. “I’m not doing any of that. Copyright 2013. Those who try to use these formulaic approaches seem wooden and inauthentic. I wrote a detailed. Many of the techniques are about overwhelming other people’s resistance to your will. he seemed engaged. and what they tend to have in common is that they focus on skills and techniques.com | 310-694-0450 5 . including some behavioral adjustments for him. As I presented it. it’s not the kind of approach most of us can adopt. So what went wrong? In retrospect. experts on influence tend to overemphasize the importance of persuasive techniques. he had. We’ve observed that blindly following this type of advice rarely leads to influence. overlooking the importance of cultivating emotional openness.” This is not a unique experience. it is an almost universal experience among geek leaders … although we may have masterful command over the facts. I made the mistake of assuming that the indisputable facts would lead to the obvious conclusion and compel him to take action. heads nod in recognition. He agreed with principles. in which he played an important role.” I was totally shocked. I did my analysis and felt good about my conclusions. But I failed to move him in the direction of making a personal change and nothing got better. Leading Geeks Company. | www. and walked the CIO through it. and hadn’t he agreed with every premise and every fact? Yes. When we tell this story at workshops and presentations. at least for technical people. and logically organized presentation. his demeanor completely changed. overlooking the importance of overcoming resistance to even using these techniques. He asked good questions and constantly nodded in agreement with key points. reasonable case supported by credible evidence. or treating others like unwitting victims of your savvy manipulation. even when it is for their own good. With a scowl on his face he said. we often fail to influence the people.leadinggeeks.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence So. he agreed with the facts. However. When I started to recommend specific changes. Hadn’t he agreed with every premise and every fact? Yes.
A geek-friendly approach to influence So what geek leaders need is an approach that is: Focused on building influence rather than power Consistent with our goals and personalities Suited for us and for those we would like to influence What we’ve observed is that rather than following the conventional advice. let’s look at the preconditions for influence and note that this approach addresses all three and raises the probability of success. Many geek leaders strongly adhere to principles of respect for another person’s intelligence. First reduce resistance Then improve technique Become more willing Foster their openness Adapt our approaches Copyright 2013. not feared and obeyed. We need to address our aversion to persuading other people.com | 310-694-0450 6 . | www. Nor are we interested in manipulating how people feel. transparency of information and intent. a more effective approach is to think about influence as a two stage process for meeting the preconditions for influence: First reduce resistance Then use techniques of influence to change others’ inner state Now.leadinggeeks.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence We geeks are generally not interested in dominating others. We want to be respected and included. and rational decision making based on good facts. Leading Geeks Company. So telling us to simply adopt persuasive techniques without addressing our aversion to persuading other people won’t help us much.
7 . we dearly wish that people would behave this way. which may be so important to developing great technology. “Don’t be absurd. | www. “Manipulating” other people’s inner experience is wrong. 1.com | 310-694-0450 We hate the whole idea of influence. but ours. like pointing out that someone has something stuck in their teeth. We don’t appeal to emotions because it makes us cringe to have our emotions appealed to. you probably hold some firmly held beliefs that get in the way of your willingness to move people.” But don’t be so sure.leadinggeeks. I wouldn’t be reading about it if I weren’t.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Reduce our resistance: Become willing to move people The first source of resistance isn’t theirs. We love working with technology because. That human beings don’t behave this way seems to us like a design flaw. 2. Our unwillingness to try to change others’ emotions is at the heart of why we lack influence. We don’t want to take advantage of a design flaw. their subjective reality. since we hate it when people appeal to ours. is not a good basis for decision-making. We have a negative emotional reaction to the whole idea of appealing to emotions. many if not most of our colleagues rely on their emotions to understand the world and make decisions. You might be saying to yourself. In our heart of hearts. We’ve identified two beliefs that are real obstacles. What we really wish is that influence was unnecessary and that we would all look at the same set of facts and independently come to the same conclusion. Our beliefs undermine our willingness If you are like many people in technology. it behaves predictably and consistently (usually). It is a weird irony that our reputation for being mechanical and robotic is based on our most empathetic impulse. We hate the whole idea of influence. undermine our influence. These beliefs. once we understand what it really means. because as we will see. Copyright 2013. of course I’m willing to influence people. So we carry around the sense that humans who don’t operate on pure reason are flawed (and annoying). We don’t want to appeal to how people feel on the inside. and we really don’t want to do that to other people. Most geeks believe that how people feel on the inside. because it seems disrespectful. unlike people. Leading Geeks Company. It’s irrelevant at best and destructive at worst. too. People’s decisions should be based on logic and objectively verifiable facts rather than subjective experience.
Some of the most compelling evidence of this comes from the work of a neuroscientist named Antonio Damasio. And the experience of good and bad. whom the psychology world knows as Eliot. Simply put: People choose things that make them feel good or not feel bad. but they also became utterly unable to make decisions. possible meteorological conditions. At a very basic level . because accepting the role of emotions in decision making is essential for becoming more willing to move people toward good decisions. people become paralyzed with indecision. When emotional processing is damaged. And the first step toward doing so is to recognize this important truth: What makes you feel good does not necessarily make someone else feel good. human emotions are essential to decision making. A geek-compatible approach to appealing to emotions Emotions are hard to understand and deal with. you can adjust your approach to influencing someone based on what makes them feel good. But let’s look at a very simple model for how this works. It took enormous discipline to listen to all of this without pounding on the table and telling him to stop. This is how Damasio describes it: “For the better part of half an hour.a human organism determines what to do next by distinguishing what feels good from what feels bad. One day.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Decisions are based on emotions As much as we wish it weren’t so. Leading Geeks Company. facts and logic are just not enough.” Numerous other studies are shedding light on how simple affective experience enables cognition. What makes you feel good does not necessarily make someone else feel good. He noticed that these patients not only became emotionless and devoid of wants and desires. unpredictable and inherently ambiguous. the patient enumerated reasons for and against each of the two dates: previous engagements. Copyright 2013. proximity to other engagements. one of his emotionless patients. the part of the brain associated with emotional processing. virtually anything that one could reasonably think about concerning a simple date. Reason. [It was] a fruitless comparison of options and possible consequences. But there is one rule of thumb that we have found to be extremely useful for concrete thinkers who want to up their emotional game. tried to make a simple decision about when to set up his next appointment with the researcher.leadinggeeks. | www. They seem infinitely complex. rewarding and punishing. is a function of how we process simple emotional responses. With this rule of thumb. He studied a number of patients with damage to part of the orbitofrontal cortex and portion of the prefrontal cortex.com | 310-694-0450 8 .
but we prefer to recognize that this tendency is rooted in strong principled behavior and a special geek brand of empathy.com | 310-694-0450 9 . Since these alternative motivations seem so wrong. And as commonplace as these social and subjective motivations are.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence This seems like it’s almost too obvious to bother saying. deep. It’s no accident that Mr. Copyright 2013. Other people are not necessarily motived by objectivity in the same way. harmony seems pathetically Pollyanna-ish. So geeks. and this is at the heart of why we lack influence. One could look at this tendency negatively. because if feels good. This difference is marked by how deeply rewarding it is for geeks to align themselves with Truth. ironically. and label it stubbornness and inflexibility. especially at work. but you would be surprised how often we lose sight of this basic fact. The golden rule is fundamentally flawed. Statusseeking seems craven. Because we aren’t willing to extend ourselves. To geeks. we are highlighting some that you will likely see at work. Objectively verifiable truth. have a very emotional attachment to facts and logic. we’ve identified a fundamental difference in what geeks find rewarding compared to most of the rest of the work world. divisive differences in what people find rewarding. we find that many geeks refuse to accept their validity as motives. stretch our worldviews and meet people where they are at.leadinggeeks. By sharing agreement on what is known to be true. we feel a sense of belonging to a community greater than ourselves. | www. the desire for selfexpression seems indulgent. And in our exploration of the differences between geeks and non-geeks. because it doesn’t account for real. But the golden rule is fundamentally flawed. and winning seems evil. Many geek leaders are unwilling to do so. appealing to them feels even worse. Geeks are simply following the golden rule here. Let’s look at some differences: Objectivity makes geeks feel good Facts Logic Evidence Analysis Right answers Non-geeks gravitate to the subjective and social Belonging Status Harmony Self-expression Winning While it is not in our scope to describe the entirety of possible human motivations. Treating others as they would like to be treated. Spock is by far the most popular Star Trek character of all time among geeks. For many of us this is our primary means of connecting with other people. Leading Geeks Company. belonging seems trivial.
they become even less open. you should heed my advice. “You care about this project now. in truth.com | 310-694-0450 10 . we are terrible at creating the feeling in others that we are “on their side. stare into her eyes and say. since that’s not our challenge. they don’t know the number of hours that you put in. than they should be open to our influence.” So we need to understand what makes a person open to being influenced by someone else? It’s rather simple really. we believe that these are the things that should matter most when others consider whether to be open to our influence.” “That’s absurd. You can’t overpower someone to change how they feel. You are on my side. Leading Geeks Company. if they think that your allegiance lies elsewhere and they think you are competent. For them to be open to your influence they need to believe two things: You are competent enough to help me in this domain. and even if they did. Competent enemies are much more threatening than incompetent ones. “If I know what I’m talking about. We believe that if we are knowledgeable in this area and smart. if someone doesn’t think that you’re on their side. that’s not how people evaluate whether or not you are on their side.” you say. validating and expanding our competence.” Well.” But this single-minded focus on competence has disastrous results. “If an objective third party deems me competent. Competent enemies are much more threatening than incompetent ones. Not only are these fun and satisfying for us. actually.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Reduce their resistance: Foster openness The second source of resistance is theirs rather than ours. We love advanced degrees. “How could they doubt my commitment? Don’t they know how many hours I put in? While they’re home watching a football game. | www. Because. getting certified in new languages or project management approaches. they must be open to allow us to do that. we geeks also tend to overemphasize competence. it doesn’t matter what they think of your competence.” That’s why we spend so much time and effort demonstrating.leadinggeeks. You can’t grab your project sponsor by the shirt. In other words. than so should you. my team and I are here launching services for them. learning new skills. So we’re not going to focus on competence here. Copyright 2013. Overemphasizing competence Just as we overemphasize facts. No matter how willing we are to change someone else’s inner experience. In fact. Let’s focus on the second criteria because in general.
not a rational calculation. and determining who was in and out of our circle of support was critical to survival. and is sensed by people based on a number of cues that we geeks rarely attend to. | www. Empathy is the key to openness Our human physiology bears evidence to the importance of determining who is on our side and who is not. I’m already doing it in my mind. As animals we needed to know: Who will help us survive and deserves to be helped by us Who will harm us and deserves to be killed.com | 310-694-0450 11 . enslaved or avoided It’s an instinctive feeling. This is because the feeling of “being on your side” is rooted in our nature as social animals. the neurons that your brain would use to do the same thing become active – as if you yourself were doing it. the corresponding neurons in our own brains become activated. Same-sidedness is sensed by people based on a number of cues that we geeks rarely attend to. In fact. Ramachandran. We evolved as tribal creatures. allowing us to: Imitate others seamlessly. then I can do that very same thing. Copyright 2013. And it’s a feeling that’s primarily triggered by empathy.. This capacity benefits us in many ways. or executing that action. cognition and autonomic control. Before that. enabling easy transmission of knowledge and culture. so I think I’ll make myself some fire.” whose function is to recognize and reproduce in us the experience of other people. and a spark jumps out. But it became clear that there was more. even biological. It now seems that another major function of the brain is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. as if we ourselves were experiencing those sensations.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence How do people evaluate same-sidedness? The source of the feeling of same-sidedness is primal. it was assumed that the brain had three major functions: memory. Leading Geeks Company. In the late 1990s brain scientists discovered that a considerable portion of the human brain was composed of what they now call “mirror neurons.” explains neuroscientist V.leadinggeeks. When we see other people do things like reach for a peanut or get poked with a stick. “Any time you watch someone doing something.S. If he hits a rock like that against another rock.
and … look! … I’m doing it and it makes her happy! And our mirror neurons don’t fire equally for just anyone. I know instinctively that you want those grapes. you’ll reach them. Research is beginning to indicate that the closer the affiliation between people. So the closer you feel to someone. And if I give you a boost. Sorry. We would assume that once someone believes that we are on their side. It gets worse.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Predict intentions of other people.leadinggeeks. And once a problem is solved. the question is settled and we can move on to other things. and maybe even share them. In short we look for cues of empathetic feelings as a sign that it is safe to be open to someone’s influence. and be gratified and grateful to me. “If I wanted a job where empathy mattered. I’m going to make a sound like she makes. as I see you doing now. If mom puts her lips that way. Copyright 2013. allowing us to recognize and advance their goals. The idea that the right answer to a question can change from day to day is profoundly disturbing. Empathy is constantly being reassessed “Oh no. yes. the more we trust that they are on our side. But if we want to be influential. we need to recognize that this is not a problem that can be solved but a situation to be managed. And the more we detect that someone else resonates with our emotions. and I put my lips that way. Now you tell me that to create good technology I have to show people that I care about them?” Actually. This collides with another of our geek cultural biases. Cues of empathetic feelings are a sign that it is safe to be open to someone’s influence. Same-sidedness is something that we constantly monitor and reassess. the more intensely you feel their pain and want to avoid causing it. If I were looking longingly at those grapes hanging from a vine just beyond my reach. the more strongly their mirror neurons fire. But wait. it stays solved. We tend to see the world through the lens of problems and solutions. Learn language. but it’s not a onetime thing.” you might be thinking. Not only is empathy required. Leading Geeks Company. | www. The question of whether they trust that we are on their side is always open. They may feel that I’m on your side today and feel completely differently tomorrow based on your subconscious assessment of my empathy. I would have become a social worker or a salesman.com | 310-694-0450 12 .
Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence How we inadvertently close them off When we encounter resistance to our influence. “But I am very careful to treat everyone I work with respectfully.” To reduce contempt. maybe so.” you say. And a common response to being insulted by another person is to feel contempt for them. Sometimes the very attempt to conceal it. we must accept that they see the world differently and behave differently in it. “They SHOULD do this. “Well. is exactly what betrays its presence.leadinggeeks. Contemptuous thoughts can rarely be hidden. it is deeply upsetting. we need to catch it in the act. Humans tend to resent people who upset them. flat voice and stony face. Grandma had a useful saying. Their mirror neurons pick up our contempt whether we like it or not. we assume that our competence is being called into question. Since we geeks value competence so highly. we get insulted. And contempt is very difficult to conceal. It indicates that you feel that there’s a right and wrong way to approach something and you’re going to judge the idiots who do it wrong. On it’s face. A commitment to respect is a powerful character strength. we have our own natural emotional response to their resistance. I would never treat anyone with contempt. “they SHOULDN’T believe something like that. they are incredibly sensitive to any sign that someone views them negatively. “It takes all kinds. We know that we are on their side. why don’t they? There’s little more maddening than being treated like an enemy when you know that you are a friend. judging and rejecting people who violate our principles.com | 310-694-0450 13 . In addition. But if we want to influence and contribute to people who are different than us.” And for that we applaud you. | www.” Copyright 2013. when our influence is spurned. But you should know that contemptuous thoughts can rarely be hidden. Leading Geeks Company. Martin Luther King is quoted as saying “You can have no influence over those for whom you have underlying contempt. This is the greatest temptation of principled people. For as much as people need to be hit across the side of head with evidence that you share their concerns. The clue that you’re falling into this trap is when you hear yourself thinking about another person and the word “SHOULD” comes to mind. they become convinced that we’re not on their side and resist us even more. and essential to fostering influence.” Grumbling about what they should or shouldn’t be doing is a sure sign that you’re in danger of slipping into contempt.” Or. And when they sense contempt rather than empathy.
It resulted in saving the client millions of dollars. a tidal wave of anger and complaints crashed down on me. logically structured. “that must’ve been really frustrating.com | 310-694-0450 14 . And since I was presumed to be tainted by my association with the hated system. Among the many detractors of this system the most vociferous were the manufacturing operations people. I Cues that I am on your side also needed them to accept that I was competent to help. Instead. after having learned the limitations of the fact-only approach to influence. I didn’t attempt to refute anything they said. explaining that I had what they said. a little bit of empathy went a long way to foster their openness to influence. But how could I build consensus around this decision when so many of the stakeholders were collecting pitchforks for a march on the corporate office? In my younger days. I let myself be moved by magnitude of what they had Asked clarifying questions Commented on their emotions. Copyright 2013.” In this case. Leading Geeks Company. well-organized presentation to convince them to support my recommendations. it became clear that replacing the system didn’t make sense. After a couple of weeks of analysis. | www. leaning in when they -ended question about their experidid.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Empathy paves the way Later in Paul’s career. whose angry cries to have it replaced immediately were deafening even though they were 1000 miles away from headquarters. that I understood their needs and cared about them as people and colleagues. to reduce their resistance to me and my recommendations. It would cost more than $3 million and offer no business value over fixing the one already in place. Here’s the story: “A CIO of a midsize manufacturing firm hired me to figure out what to do with a botched ERP implementation. At each stakeholder meeting. In meetings I emphasized that I had no Took lots of notes so he could see me writing down personal agenda. leaning back when they didn’t. I would have put together a cogent. I needed them to know that I was on their side. ence of the implementation and Didn’t interrupt or defend working with the product. But this time I knew better. and asked clarifying questions. took notes.leadinggeeks. no opinion about the right course of Looked directly at them without avoidance or shame action until I had consulted with them. only listened patiently. So I made sure we So what were the cues of same-sidedness that I offered had enough face time. scheduling two in in those meetings at the manufacturing site? Here’s what I did: hours with each of the key managers. I created an opportunity for empa Nodded my understanding thetic listening by asking a single open Mirrored their body language. he had an opportunity to use empathy as an explicit strategy to build influence with a client. I planned a four-day trip to the manufacturing facility with the only goal being to meet their preconditions for influence.
But by the end of the four days. Skill #1: Listen for what’s important to people This is the single most important technique for reducing resistance to your influence. and how to reduce resistance. So we’re going to invest more time with this one than with the others. but I had shifted their stance from outright hostility to guarded optimism. they accepted that it was the best course of action and they agreed to support it. I hadn’t fully convinced them that I was on their side. but they were no longer intensely resistant to me. and sincerely offered sympathetic statements like. Describe a rosy future 3. my boss.com | 310-694-0450 15 . Express commitment 5. Listen for what is important to people 2. Leading Geeks Company. and then spent 3 ½ days listening to the same stories over and over. we are finally ready to look at the five essential skills that you need to become more influential. | www. They weren’t overjoyed about the conclusion.” Soft Skills for Influence Now that you understand why we lack influence. this is it. but were open to accepting it because they trusted that my analysis was done with their needs and objectives in mind. I explained that I would go back and complete my analysis and return in a few weeks with a proposed course of action. If you’re only going to focus your energy on developing one skill for influence. Expose your desire 4. And I assured them that whatever I recommended that I was committed to making sure their needs were met this time.” or “I can see why you’d be so angry about that.” At the end of each meeting. Without that first trip to meet their preconditions for openness. Two weeks later when I returned and gave them the logical structured presentation that I could have given on the first visit. Copyright 2013.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence suffered. a remarkable transformation had happened. I have no doubt that they would not have accepted the recommendations and likely would’ve thrown me out of the building. Translate facts into stories Will explore each one in more detail and explain both why it is important and what you need to do to enhance your abilities. The manufacturing team still despised the system. resulted in the company saving millions of dollars. “that sounds awful.leadinggeeks. We’re finally ready to talk about the techniques you can use that will create for other people the experience of being open to you and trusting of your input: 1. and everything we had to say. where very little was done and very little was learned. I got a pretty good picture of the facts of the situation in the first half day. This trip was not about gathering information. Those few days of listening.
The feeling that comes with not being understood can be intense and painful. And there’s little more destructive to influence than ignoring or rejecting their sense of what’s important in any given situation. It’s just there. Leading Geeks Company. Now consider which of these people you would rather be influenced by. | www. But understanding what’s important to people isn’t as simple as listening to what they say. You were struggling for words to say something complex. the feeling that comes with being understood can be highly pleasurable. but their puzzled expression made it clear they just never would. Few people are even conscious of what they care about most. How did you feel at that moment? Frustrated? Impatient? Isolated? On guard? People’s responses to feeling understood or misunderstood are intense and visceral. Even if they can’t state clearly what’s important to them. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it’s invisible that it’s not essential. that they don’t try to examine or articulate anything about its nature. And it colors their interpretation of the meaning of facts. Here’s what it’s like for them. People’s responses to feeling understood or misunderstood are intense and visceral. the one who understands what’s important to you or the one who is either unable or unwilling? Your job is to detect what problems they care most about solving. How did you feel when you realized that they understood? Relieved? Satisfied? Safe? Encouraged? Now think back to when someone simply wouldn’t or couldn’t understand something important to you. Think about a time when someone really “got” something important you were trying to tell them. and the goal of influence is to change their inner experience. Since it’s so central to their inner experience. and your listener paraphrased it in exactly the right way. It’s such an ever present companion. their own inner sense of what’s more important and what’s less. You can think of it as a set of axioms undergirding their inner universe. Think about how this feels to you. events and relationships. Doing so moves them both rationally and emotionally. they surely know when someone else neither understands nor shares their sense of what’s important.leadinggeeks. And similarly. like water to a fish. Copyright 2013. It drives their actions. You tried again and again to get them to see why it was worth caring about. It guides what they pay attention to.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence What is “listening for what’s important” ? and why it matters Everyone has their own worldview. there’s nothing more powerful you can do to influence someone than to understand what’s important to them.com | 310-694-0450 16 .
They should translate what’s important to them into technology requests. Why we resist We geeks often deliberately reject this type of listening. It’s because we hold certain beliefs. They often: Copyright 2013. I’ll trust that you are supporting me personally. To master the skill of listening for what is important. Here. not just buying into my objectives. but the person you’re talking to registers that you understood. Once you understand. people trust you if they feel that you understand what is important to them. You’re listening for: What they say What they don’t say What they don’t know how to say People don’t often come right out and declare what they care about. especially when it comes to getting requirements from non-technical stakeholders.com | 310-694-0450 17 . real people don’t always work that way. but more importantly listening for what they mean. We serve the needs of our stakeholders and they should be the source of requirements and requests. you must allow that people frequently fall short of these ideals. And they feel contempt for you if they think you don’t care enough to try to understand. Leading Geeks Company. | www. even if you don’t entirely agree with them. It is your responsibility to tease it out and reflect back to them what you understood to be important to them. It’s a very useful technique because not only do you confirm the information. you are not only listening for what they say. They should articulate what’s important to them. In short. What they tell us should be precisely and literally true.leadinggeeks. even if I have difficulty articulating it. you can validate its importance to you. We believe: They should know what they want. Not quite the same as active listening Chances are that you’ve heard of a technique called active listening. that you are on my side. They don’t trust you if they feel that you don’t understand.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence If I know that you know what is important to me Reason Emotion I can more confidently predict that I’ll get what I want. Listening for what’s important to other people is similar. derived from the development and support processes that we’ve been taught. Notice all the “should’s” in these beliefs. but extends the approach even further. It involves patiently hearing out what someone is saying and paraphrasing what you heard back to them. Unfortunately.
People frequently use metaphors. look for signs of: Positive affect Excitement and Enthusiasm . Avoid actually stating what they really care about. For many people this becomes clear to them in the course of a conversation.(your confusion) Copyright 2013. you’ll find what they care about.High energy. intonation or language. Speak imprecisely. The basic expressions of human emotion are instinctive and common. Emphatic gestures Interest . 18 . they ask for solution to an unarticulated problem. In short. so it’s just a matter of paying attention to something we typically consider unimportant or even inappropriate at work. there is importance. How to find what’s important to people You might be wondering. there is importance. Observe Signs of emotion are easy to spot if you remind yourself that you should be looking for them. you can use all of your powers of deductive and inductive reasoning to make your best guess about what underlies their feelings. Clenched teeth Stubbornness -.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Don’t know exactly what they want. Returning to same point Negative affect Anger . Big smile.Sly grin.Pursed lips. Questions. Furrowed brow Frustration – Sigh. Here’s a simple rule: Where there is emotion. Leading Geeks Company. Once you notice the emotions in their statements.Not listening Irrationality -. guesses and half-truths. | www. So when you are listening. so if you follow the feelings.leadinggeeks. Here are four essential elements for this skill. “If people won’t or can’t say what they care about. how the heck am I supposed to know?” The secret is to look for signs of emotion. They don’t express themselves fully debugged Java.com | 310-694-0450 Where there is emotion. Lack sufficient knowledge about technology to make informed requests without help. and instead make specific requests which they presume will best address the issue. People don’t have feelings about unimportant things.
you have several options for how to figure out what important things are eliciting these emotions. quality).leadinggeeks. It’s like the difference between How’s your son’s robot project coming along? And How many hours have you spent on your son’s robot project? One is open ended and invites excitement and pride. Both types of questions have their place. An especially good cue is when the intensity of emotion they display does not fit with the content of what they’re saying. Postpone objections While you are listening to someone talk about what they want or what they are interested in.com | 310-694-0450 19 . Once you see the emotions. If someone is red in the face. You’ll need to dig deeper to find out what it really is. Ask There is absolutely no harm in asking someone what they care about. | www. People are often glad to be asked to talk about what is important to them. schedule.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence The key is knowing that the emotions may not be directly related to what they are saying at the time they display it. Leading Geeks Company. budget. As problem Copyright 2013. screaming and upset about some minor issue. Try asking some very simple questions like the following. We geeks often ask them to rank their priorities (features. These types of questions are usually welcomed. There is absolutely no harm in asking someone what they care about. you want to stay in the realm of emotions. Open-ended questions make room for people to talk about their subjective experience. you might be tempted to voice your concerns about the plausibility and risks. The other taps into the calculating parts of the brain. chances are that what they’re complaining about isn’t really what’s bothering them. You might even be tempted to test the validity of the request by exploring exceptions and edge cases. “What is most important to you about this project?” “What will make you feel like this has really worked?” “What worries you about the plans?” Notice that this is very different than asking about goals or objective project success criteria. but when asking about importance. But the brain circuits that give you access to what you care about are not the same brain circuits that allow you to rank things in relative order. and is not likely to engender an emotional response. right then and there.
interruptions can be disruptive and even painful. a shift toward a more relaxed posture. It’s a similar experience to the one we have when we get interrupted in the middle of writing code. You will be making assumptions about someone else’s inner life. Before you start to question their request. How long does it take you to get back to where you were and become productive again? That’s what it’s like for someone who is trying to explain their vision for a product. You might notice a smile. Once they know that you’re looking to understand before evaluating. you will find it very rewarding. you reflect back the literal meaning of what you heard. what matters here is … I get that you really care about … If you miss the mark. You will be forming hypothesis about what’s important to them and respectfully asking if you’re correct. There are two reasons for this: They hear our problem-solving as resistance and negativity. If you hit it on the nose.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence solvers. You can jot your thought down and come back to it after you have made sure that they have been heard. or imagine the features they need. Copyright 2013. | www. They hear our problemsolving as resistance and negativity. make sure you’ve confirmed that you understand what’s important about it. they will have the opportunity to correct you. which feels bad and disrespectful.leadinggeeks. It interrupts their flow of thought. Reflect & confirm In active listening. But this form of analysis is destructive to influence when done at the wrong time. they can participate in the evaluation with you rather than feeling judged and belittled. If you haven’t already had this experience with coworkers.com | 310-694-0450 20 . Rather than experiencing our questions and analysis as a form of support they hear it as judgment of their competence. Leading Geeks Company. In listening for what’s important you’ll be reflecting a reasoned guess about what is important to them about what they were saying. we do this all the time. When they are struggling to articulate what’s important to them. and it will prompt them to be explicit about what is important to them. they will be pleased and reassured. or eager head nodding. A surefire approach to postponing objections is to always have paper and pen handy. and you interrupt them. And you’ll probably open your response with a simple phrase like: It sounds like what you want is … It seems to be really important to you that … If I understand correctly.
Skill # 2: Describe a rosy future Influence is nearly always about the future. We want people to get their email faster and more reliably today and position us to serve our expanding staff with the same high level of service. superfast solid-state storage because the current equipment is slow and will only get worse over time. But. Essentially. not to be repelled by a negative present. problems are rooted in the here and now. The problem emphasizes a flaw in the present that needs to be fixed. here’s another aspect of geek culture frequently gets in the way. Leading Geeks Company. Typically. Mastering the art of listening for what’s important probably gets you 60% of the way to becoming more influential. If you want to influence Copyright 2013. but once you get used to it. specifically our orientation toward problems and solutions. A problem is about a deficiency in the present or an unexploited opportunity.” Here’s the same request but describing a rosy future instead of a looming problem: “We would like to buy this new storage in preparation for our staff expansion. By their nature.” Notice the difference? The rosy future emphasizes positive experiences set in the future. it’s usually part of an attempt to build influence for the future. problems are uninspiring. Even when you are trying to influence someone to reinterpret the meaning of past events. | www.leadinggeeks. getting approval for a future course of action or building support for specific goals and approaches. this will only get worse. They want to be enticed by the prospect of a better future. What we mean by a rosy future Imagine that you want to upgrade your company’s email server with new. Non-geeks are more likely to be moved by imagining the positive experiences the new reality will bring. But for most non-geeks. compelling question. you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this all along. it is the difference between pain-relief and pleasure seeking. we would go to get approval and explain the problem with a statement like: “We need to buy this new storage because the current system is slow and will continue to get slower as our data volume grows. We love a good problem and can’t help engaging with a well-constructed. Emphasize positive experiences set in the future.com | 310-694-0450 21 . As our staff grows.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence It may be a bit uncomfortable at first.
so describing a future as if it were a certainty feels dishonest. You’ll be surprised at how much your business partners appreciate this. 5. And we loathe dishonesty. Think of a colleague you would like to influence. this may feel unnatural at first. Why we resist While shifting your approach to describe a positive experience in the future may seem like a fairly straight forward. Once again. Imagine the experience of living in that future vividly. Describing a future as if it were a certainty feels dishonest. When I hear a compelling vision for the future… Reason Emotion -. No one really knows what the future will bring. not on the probable facts of the future. Describing a rosy future appeals both to their sense of reason and emotion. We have observed that we don’t like to talk about the future because it feels like lying. Imagine a future where that problem is solved.leadinggeeks. Write the rosy future for that problem in terms of what that colleague considers important. and start to consider the dependencies for how to get there – I feel good about feeling good in the future.I am engaged. 3. 2. and feel good about you. rather than what will motivate you. you can feel freer to describe a scenario without feeling disingenuous. Copyright 2013.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence someone. | www. 4. you need to shift your approach toward what will motivate them. we have found that many of us geeks struggle with this skill.com | 310-694-0450 22 . How to reframe a problem into a rosy future Here’s an exercise to help you focus your imagination. Leading Geeks Company. but on the experience and feelings of people in that future: 1. But as long as you realize you’re describing a possible future and not promising a particular outcome. Describe a problem that you’d like to fix at work. easy thing to do. but will become second nature in very short order.
leadinggeeks. unlike a promise it does not guarantee an outcome. A commitment. and less open to your influence. A commitment is not the same as a promise. Copyright 2013. and telling your partners what it is that’s important to you. Leading Geeks Company. they will also feel good about you. At core. | www. All you have to do is start a few sentences with the phrase. 1. The second statement is probably something you can say with confidence. they assume that you made a conscious choice to conceal them.com | 310-694-0450 23 . So when you hide your wants from them. because you aren’t a fortune-teller. With a commitment. The first statement might be hard for you to say. They must consider that your advice is secretly self-serving rather than genuine and helpful. there is a lot more room for flexibility. on the other hand. as part of an attempt to gain advantage through concealment or deception. And then they become suspicious because people who conceal their desires often do so for devious reasons. “I want. while staying firmly rooted in achieving the outcome. A promise is a guarantee of what will happen in the future and as we all know. I am committed to finishing the project by September 1.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Skill # 3: Expose your desire We’ve looked at ways to detect and respond to the inner lives of the people you want to influence. So many things happen outside of our control that it makes many of us uncomfortable to talk about the future with any degree of certainty. It is beautiful because it expresses what you care about and are working toward without getting you into the morass of making a promise. You don’t risk having told a lie if that result isn’t achieved. is an expression of what you care about and what you feel determined to do. And when you do express your desires. but you can control what you are committed to. You don’t really know that it will be done. And when you don’t express yours. Non-geeks are suspicious of people with no wants. A commitment guarantees only one thing: that you will continue to work toward an outcome. Not only will it be satisfying to them. The beauty of a commitment is that. non-technical people will be satisfied with the second statement. Notice the difference between these two statements: I we will finish the project by September 1. Many times. they are less likely to trust you. especially if you have researched the issues and consider it to be a realistic goal. but it is one of the easiest tools to adopt and one of the most overlooked by people with technical backgrounds. Our business partners correctly assume that everyone has desires. no one really knows with complete certainty what will happen in the future. Why it is important There are two key reasons that this is so important. You can’t control what happens. Express commitment Another phrase to add to your bag of tricks is. they feel more confident in predicting your behavior because they understand your motivations. “I am committed to …” This is especially important when talking about milestones and deadlines. and you are not likely to see this skill on anyone else’s list of essential soft skills. This next skill is about exposing your own inner state. this technique is deceptively simple.” The advantages of this phrase are not obvious at first.
both eager for the heat and spice of a great Chinese meal.I feel good because we want the same thing and we’re on the same side. In fact. they can be assured that they are less likely to be deterred or distracted by some other option.com | 310-694-0450 24 . no excitement. How about Chinese? I guess.I feel relieved. Where do you want to go for dinner? Hmmm. logic and objective truth. Here’s an exchange we all might recognize: Where do you want to go for dinner? I dunno. | www. And then our protagonists trudge off to have lackluster dim sum. Here’s how people experience it: If I know what you “want” … Reason – I can better predict your behavior. what are you in the mood for? Anything’s good for me. Leading Geeks Company. our analytical approach is designed specifically to remove emotional things like wanting from decision-making. it exposes your inner life. When no one is willing to express what they want. no shared objectives. They fall into a tenuous same-sidedness by default.leadinggeeks. When you say what you want. Okay. Not only did they arrive at their conclusion faster. How about that new Szechwan place? That sounds great! I’d love to go there! And now our protagonists bound off. sure. gives people a chance to want what you want. we generally believe that subjective things like wants should have nothing to do with decisions at work. let’s look at what happens when desire isn’t expressed. No desire. – It’s a shortcut to agreement. and builds trust. -.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence 2. I don’t really care. Expressing their desire cements the fact that they are on the same side in this dinner-getting endeavor. -. Copyright 2013. progress becomes difficult and conversations stilted. But the dynamic changes radically when desires are expressed. and can put away my suspicions. Where do you want to go? Well. To get a feel for how important is to be able to express your desire when trying to influence people. It’s easier to come to agreement when everybody wants something. then I guess we’ll go to Chinese. Emotion Why we resist Because we geeks are so devoted to rationality. reveals what is important to you. I’m feeling like something spicy.
leadinggeeks. Here are a few examples of personal wants that would be easy to express to your business partners: “I want this to be the smoothest launch you’ve ever experienced. And more subtly. Our guess is that if you start to say “I want” with people who are not used to hearing you say it. you probably already do express your wants at work. People generally need to relate to information narratively. But we geeks don’t value stories like others do. but also an essential element of success.” “I want this new software to make your life easier. expressing wants exposes us to ridicule. positive reactions from them. What an individual wants should have nothing to do with decision-making. say at home with your spouse or kids. They prefer to get what they want rather than figure out what’s right for everyone involved. facts just float like dust in a spotlight.” Experiment with this phrase in low-stakes situations. But most people relate to information as if it were a character in a story. The content may change from culture to culture but storytelling is universal. but disguise them as objective needs rather than personal desires.” “I want to protect the students’ privacy. That relatively rare ability to think abstractly and manipulate symbols is part of what draws us to technical work in the first place. Facts aren’t enough. In our work.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence And so over time. Copyright 2013.” “I want to give us a competitive advantage. Principles. but unstated assumptions. How to improve your ability to say “I want” When you do express wants at work. Leading Geeks Company.com | 310-694-0450 25 . Without a cast of motivated characters and a sequence of causal events. it’s not just an odd quirk. so we prefer to keep our private wants private. Wanting should be irrelevant. In fact. People who express their wants at work are self-centered. we develop an aversion to expressing our desires at work and even judge those who do as violating some of our common. We tend to think more abstractly. Wanting is too risky. not just keep up. illuminated but meaningless. Decisions should be made based on observable facts and logic to maximize the positive the outcome for the entire organization. they need not be self-centered or selfish. you will notice slightly different. We assume that: Wanting is selfish. | www. rules and frameworks help us to organize facts and give them meaning. Skill #4: Translate facts into stories Why stories are important for influence Humans are wired for narrative … from heroic epics to sacred myths to Hollywood blockbusters to bedtime stories to gossip.
you are telling it to run through the whole database and look in every row and every column asking. Most people relate to information as if it were a character in a story.” I listened carefully but never really understood that how important it was. deathly slow. He said. “When you submit that query it taxes the system. the more data in your data base. “When you submit the query. Without the story of how the query worked. emotion.com | 310-694-0450 26 . In math. Reason Emotion Why we resist We resist telling stories because we mistrust anecdotes. but it has Copyright 2013. the more your query has to run around looking under every rock. proof is the only acceptable standard. you’ll need to hone your ability to translate your native tongue of concept into story. It’s very draining. are you there? That’s why. and it slows the system down. And this makes sense because math is about the manipulation of abstract symbols. How you feel is irrelevant. and I was able to much more easily let go of or modify problematic requirements. To become more influential at work. I could appreciate the significance of the cost to the system. I was influenced by the able tech lead and glad of it. Leading Geeks Company. Later.leadinggeeks.” I asked what he meant by that. which have no explicit connection to intuition. Intuition can be a great guide in math. I heard the information but not the meaning. I got the meaning and adjusted my approach. and didn’t change my thinking. and he explained without really changing his metaphor. the situation was explained to me differently by a tech lead who went on to become a Director. indeed. It’s pretty rare in a math class for a teacher to ask a student about their feelings related to the truth of a proposition. or other forms of human knowing. | www.I can relate to the meaning of your facts.” As soon as I could picture the story of a query. And my choices for that product lead to our creating something that was.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence Some of the most successful IT leaders have a habit of anthropomorphizing various aspects of their technology so that non-technical people can get their minds around it. If I hear your facts in the context of a story or metaphor … – I can actually understand what you are saying -. and the tech lead kept saying that certain features I requested were “expensive. With the story. Here’s an example from early in Maria’s career: I was planning the feature set for a web product. and be stirred to decisive action. Let’s take a minute to look at why that is.
Leading Geeks Company. and who will be making the decision. We believe that here are no valid uses for anecdotes. Faculty. A more valid conclusion would be to recognize the contextual uses of anecdotes. A good story activates mirror neurons in the brain as the listener imagines themselves in the story. and what is important to them. But we find that translating concepts and symbols into stories doesn’t always come naturally. staff. It triggers cortisol. Anecdotes are vehicles for evidence. How to translate facts into story Since we’re all wired for storytelling and narrative. Scientists are now finding that our brains our designed to process information by observing a sequence of causal events. feel or believe in such a way that they make a decision in support of that action. We don’t need to teach you how to tell a compelling story. In many instances they are helpful vehicles for evidence.leadinggeeks. Be explicit about what decision needs to be made. So go ahead and give storytelling a try without feeling that you’re compromising your commitment to logic and reason. neuroscience is beginning to offer exactly that. that anecdotes are not evidence. And we are also taught that examples are not a form of proof. a hormone associated with focusing attention. and oxytocin. Copyright 2013. Start with your goal Think about a situation that you want to influence. the best course of action. and reason into a narrative structure. the empathy hormone which engenders warm caring feelings. And in case you need evidence for the value of anecdotes and influence. Capture the facts Then simply write down the most important.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence no bearing on whether something is considered true or false. Your goal will be to move that person to change what that they think. and student satisfaction with tech support surveyed at its lowest point in 10 years. convincing facts related to your case. But here we fall into a logical trap of hasty generalization. It takes a concerted effort and practice to translate facts. you already have it in you.com | 310-694-0450 27 . | www. We apply that rule to all things in life rather than restricting it to reasoning about abstractions. You don’t have to give them up to use stories for influence. Each helpdesk has its own tracking software and procedures. For example: We have 12 help desks on campus. logic.
| www.com | 310-694-0450 28 . I felt worse knowing that we spent 25% more than our sister institutions. End with a moral Make sure there is a “moral” to your story.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence The two biggest complaints in the satisfaction survey were that people didn’t know which helped us to call or were constantly being bounced from one to another. no matter how capable you are at fixing technical problems. as well as the emotions triggered by the situation. He waited on the phone for 10 minutes and then was told that he had to call someone else.] which lead to an outcome Skill #5: Restore Trust Every work relationship has breakdowns eventually. and what resulted. hypothetical or even metaphorical that references these facts. Projects have problems. Expectations aren’t met. real. we tend to focus exclusively on fixing the problem. only to give him such poor service. Think of an experience Then think of an experience. Or personalities clash. In fact. so he just randomly picked one. cost effective help desk system. Copyright 2013. Formula Here is a formula for a basic story structure that can contain any kind of fact: Someone [ did | experienced ] something that was [ surprising | intriguing | unexplained |embarrassing | exciting | difficult | etc. We spend 25% more on support per user than our peer institutions. The story emerges from causal events. your business partners will not feel good about you or your technology if you don’t manage the feelings that arise with these issues. Tell what happened. But that’s not necessary. Here’s an example: Last month the Dean of the arts college called me to complain about how much trouble he had getting help with a hard drive problem on his laptop. if we can just prioritize this project for next quarter. Unfortunately. Leading Geeks Company. handled well. I really want us to have an easy-to use. can destroy all of your good work and undermine your influence. if handled poorly. I think we can save a lot of money. And as I listened to him. when problems arise. you can exit a relationship breakdown with more influence than you started with. Be explicit about what your listener should conclude about this story. As geeks. He couldn’t figure out which of our 12 help desks to call.leadinggeeks. These breakdowns.
Get their facts – as your business partner understands them. 6. Find the feelings – about the situation and the relationship. 7. Just listen. 8. Copyright 2013. But it will take consistent and persistent work on our part to lower the barriers (the resistance) to our influence and practice in the techniques to break through. just as empathy is essential in building trust. Handle the problem – lastly. Be prepared – for inevitable breakdowns.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence In Paul’s book “8 Steps to Restoring Client Trust. Conclusion By now. hopefully you no longer feel that IT Leaders can never overcome the persistent influence deficit. Let them know you got it – listen for what’s important to them.com | 310-694-0450 29 . it is even more important when restoring it. Remember. fix whatever went wrong. Handle the feelings – offer an apology for the facts. 5. | www. handling both the facts and the feelings: 1.” he outlined a simple approach for overcoming inevitable conflicts. and to our organizations to strive for influence commensurate with the technology we oversee. Dispute the facts (if you must) – Only dispute their facts if it’s important. We owe it to ourselves. Frame the problem – ensure that the meaning of the problem is not misconstrued or blown out of proportion. the feelings. 3. Leading Geeks Company. 4.leadinggeeks. Technology has become too central to the success of our organizations to accept that we in technology will forever be relegated to second class status. 2. to our staffs. We can get that “seat at the table” that we’ve been talking about for decades. Too much is at stake to give up. and the impact of the problem.
GoToMeeting will change the way you work – and perhaps a whole lot more. visit www. screen sharing and audio conferencing.gotomeeting.com.com | 310-694-0450 30 . maria@leadinggeeks. GoToAssist is recognized as the worldwide market leader by IDC and ranked highest in customer satisfaction according to TSIA research. allowing you to collaborate effectively online in a face-to-face environment. Founder. PC and mobile devices.gotoassist. | www. employees and machines online.leadinggeeks. paul@leadinggeeks. Paul helps concrete thinkers navigate the murky world of human relationships.com Maria McManus. IT professionals can deliver fast. Leading Geeks Company. Hold unlimited meetings for one low flat fee and attend meetings from a Mac. extraordinarily powerful web conferencing service from Citrix. a long-time columnist for Computerworld and a 25-year IT veteran. Copyright 2013. Geek. To learn more. To learn more. Co-founder. Drawing on her experience as VP of Product at iVillage and Director of User Experience at Disney.Leading Geeks education + consulting A Geek Leader’s Guide to Influence About Leading Geeks Paul Glen. As the award-winning author of the book Leading Geeks. visit www. secure remote support and monitor IT infrastructures from anywhere. It integrates HD video conferencing. With GoToAssist.com Sponsored by: GoToAssist Citrix GoToAssist provides easy-to-use cloud-based solutions that enable organizations of all sizes to connect with customers. Maria helps business people unlock creativity and productivity when working with technical teams. Non-geek.com GoToMeeting GoToMeeting is the extremely simple.
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