Learning the Art of Persuasion for Effective Leadership

Effective leadership demands much, including the ability to be a great salesman. What exactly do I mean by that? I mean mastering the art of persuasion. So much of leadership involves convincing others that what you want them to do is what they want to do.

There is a great deal of nuance when it comes to the persuasive arts. However, ultimately, what you need to understand is that as an effective leader, none of your communication is neutral. It is all serving a persuasive purpose. And as such, it needs to have a clear strategy and vision.

If you are not working on your communicative and persuasive skills in leadership, this may be an area you need to strengthen.

Persuasion is more than simply getting people to do what you want them to do, though. Here are my top tips in the art of persuasion if you want to become a more effective leader.


3 Ways to Become a More Effective Leader through the Art of Persuasion

Let’s set up a few presuppositions before we dive in. One, a leader: regardless of what you do, or what you are trying to accomplish, is trying to get others to work together to achieve a common goal or vision. You might be leading others to achieve a personal goal, leading a company to achieve business or financial goals, or leading your own family to deepen a bond of love and live an enriched, happy life together. Whatever you lead, this is fundamentally what you are doing.

You are persuading them, somehow, to do things, small and large, so that the goal can be accomplished. As a leader, you also want people to believe in these goals and feel they are worthwhile.

So what then, makes persuasion in leadership effective?

Wait: What’s the difference between manipulation and persuasion?

I have to get this out there first, because there’s bound to be some confusion. Persuasion itself can sound a little...disreputable. But persuasion, let’s be clear, is a quality of a good leader. Manipulation is self-serving and often short-term. The manipulator wants people to act only for their interests, and often at the detriment of others. Someone who is persuasive acts with the long-term in mind, and guides others to act in towards win-win scenarios.

A persuader values trust, the opinions and input of others, and seeks out the best outcome for everyone involved. The manipulator seeks only the best outcome for themselves. So with that said, let’s talk about persuasion.

1) Understand the emotional element of persuasion.

Most of us, at least as far as business is concerned, rely on logic and reason to convince people of things. We believe that this makes the strongest argument. But if we look at the research, we see that this, in fact, isn’t the case. We tend to make decisions based on how we feel. Emotions play a huge role in the decision-making process, even in small, minute choices, like where we want to go out to eat.

What does this mean in leadership?

It means that understanding the emotional component is critical. Even if you’re not dealing in the world of making direct pleas or shooting down emotional arguments, you have to deal with the fact that everyone is dealing with emotions and, as a leader, you have to be aware and prepared to diffuse and dispel negative emotion. You have to be the calm in the storm. You have to anticipate emotional need, understand the benefits and desires of your audience, and identify who is influential and what they want on an emotional and intellectual level. This take an enormous about of perception and intelligence, both emotional and conventional.

2) Communicate scarcity in opportunity.

One method of persuasion is in emphasizing the uniqueness of the opportunity before your team. This works on two different levels. You are giving them a window of opportunity that gives them the urge to act immediately—it creates a level of urgency that motivates people to move with a fire in their belly. If done well, it makes them feel excited to jump on a fresh, new opportunity.

On another level, you can emphasize the rarity. Framing the situation as something that doesn’t come along very often or some kind of special opportunity elevates your team into a place where they feel honored to be chosen for it.

3) Emphasize your gratitude.

Another crucial element of persuasion in leadership is your ability to emphasize your own gratitude. This is particularly important when you consider your own ability to retain talent. If you show that you respect and appreciate the people who are working with and for you, they will, in turn, feel more inclined to continue doing so.

When it comes to the workplace, when employees are habitually treated well, they are much less likely to leave, if only because doing so betrays a sense of obligation. You as the leader have shown them gratitude and good favor, and they do not want to lose it by leaving.

In general, regardless of whether or not you intend to persuade anyone of anything, showing gratitude is just the decent thing to do.

The art of persuasion is hugely encompassing—in fact, there are many types of persuasion and these are just a few tips on persuasive tactics for leaders. As you become more aware of how important it is in every interaction and how critical effective communication is, you will find your leadership skills jumping to the next level.

Have you found persuasion effective in leadership? Share your experience in the comments.