Leadership Skills: Persuasion and Influence

By Dr. Terry Jackson

Updated Over a Week Ago

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Persuasion and influence are leadership skills, but persuasion is not the same thing as influence.

Convincing someone to do what you want them to do is persuasion.

On the other hand, influence is part of your identity. Influence is your presence. Influence is a part of who you are.

When you are being genuinely influential with people, you achieve a state known as conversion rather than compliance.

In the Code of Influence, Paul Mascetta defines these states as:

COMPLIANCE is when someone does what you want them to, but you haven’t necessarily affected their belief system. What you’ve affected is their thought process. In other words, you’ve gotten them to act in a way that they may not necessarily agree with deep down inside. They may comply because of outside factors like social norms or immense short-term rewards.”

“CONVERSION is much more powerful. Conversion is when you completely change someone’s belief system. When you can do that, they’ll fully buy into your message. When they fully buy into your message, they’ll follow you even without saying anything. You become more of a symbol for what they agree with and identify with. You, in essence, begin to share an identity with them.”

Persuasion Skills at Work

Leadership Skills and Conversion

When conversion happens, you’ll find you have a much greater ability to:

  • Create healthier, more fulfilling relationships
  • Make more money
  • Have people agree with you
  • Gain more overall control over your life

Persuasion is an essential part of influence. And persuasion is ultimately all about a result, which is otherwise known as getting your audience to do what you want them to do.

The result of compliance is often dependent on the relationship.

For example, persuading your friend to go to the restaurant of your choice can be very different from persuading your child to do their homework.

Here are 8 simple steps to persuasion:

1.  Identify A Problem

All of our decisions are made to either avoid pain or gain pleasure. But statistically, people will do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure.

If you can identify a problem or, more importantly, a desire to avoid a problem by your target, you are well on your way to positioning yourself to persuade them.

2.  Identify The Consequence Of The Problem

Once you, as the leader, have identified the unwanted issue in their life, you now show your target how not taking action to correct this issue will result in more pain.

Ultimately, you’re selling a solution. But sometimes you can’t do that unless the person knows that they have a problem. So the first step is to show them their problem.

3.  Identify The Chosen Solution

Here, you have your target select the outcome they think will solve their problem.

The best way to do this is by asking questions like, “What do you think would fix this?” “What would be the ideal outcome for you?” or “What would you prefer?”

4.  Identify The Consequences Of The Solution

It’s essential that your target accepts and understands every aspect of the new outcome and fully supports it. If they don’t, they will blame you when things don’t work out as planned (if that happens).

5.  Check For Confirmation

Make sure that the chosen outcome is something that your target truly wants. It will not help if they are not truthful, either to themselves or to you.

Gaining compliance and gaining pacification are two different things. Make sure your target is not telling you what you want to hear just for the sake of not being combative.

6.  Ensure The Solution Is Beneficial

It will never do you any good to provide quick-fix solutions or short-term answers to your target’s problems.

Make sure that any solution that you provide will provide long-lasting results. This will make them happy and lead to more opportunities for you to influence and do more business with them.

7.  Reserve Judgment

If the target makes a suggestion or answers a question appropriately, don’t judge them. Everyone views the world differently, and sometimes, someone’s perception might be different than yours, making it hard for you to comprehend why they would have a certain opinion on a particular subject matter.

Invest the time and energy to understand your target’s values, beliefs, and outlooks on life. It will not only better equip you to persuade them, but they will take notice of the fact that you have invested in getting to know them.

8.  Never Correct Your Target

Often, your target may make false, untrue, or downright incorrect statements. If you experience a situation where this happens, it’s never a good idea to tell them that they’re wrong or try to correct them.

When you do, their defense mechanisms automatically take effect. Then, instead of listening to you or becoming susceptible to persuasion, they are too busy defending their thoughts and points of view. This not only makes them difficult to persuade, but it also causes them to question their relationship with you.

How Do You Persuade and Influence?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Terry Jackson
Dr. Terry Jackson
Terry is Managing Partner for WEpiphany. Developing People is Terry’s purpose and passion. Terry brings 25 years of experience working for organizations and is also a certified Executive and Business Coach, and Sales Trainer.
  • Kathleen Listman says:

    Interesting points, of course power of conversion depends on others’ root beliefs as well as your influence. More money is not necessarily made by converting others. If others agree with your beliefs they have greater chance of providing same service/product.
    We often compete with people most like us. Often money is spent to reward others and create influence.

  • Karin Sebelin says:

    Wonderful article.
    The important details and facts are well explained here.

    There are often people who believe having influence when being able to persuade others.

    I think with the right sensitivity and empathy we reach people more than with trying to persuade others.

  • David McCuistion says:

    Dr. Jackson:

    Within the prospective of simply pain and pleasure, I can see your point fairly clerly.

    I am wondering why Number 6 is so far down on your list. I would place it up higher, probably after Number 3 because we want to know that the change (conversion) is beneficial before starting the process of total conversion.

    One point I do agree totally with is the “telling someone they are wrong” about their thoughts on the change (where conversion is headed) as this will turn them off and listening stops. This requires being able to explain the beneficial aspects of conversion in their belief system (especially as it is associated with change). I encountered this in my past job when trying to implement a new hands-free cleaning process (convert belief in a new system from old). It requires patience and being able to “convince” to change belief and value systems.

    Thanks for the article, it is very enlightening.



    I found your article to be very interesting Dr. Jackson. I learned the differences between Persuasion, Influence and Conversion. I found that the story did not end after Persuasion, but it continues with Influence with the ultimate prize of Conversion. Thank You for your great work in teaching me so many Principles that I am using and applying to my Life as well as with my Family and Friends too. I am Honored to be a Student!

  • Dr. H. Okoro says:

    Dr. Jackson,
    Great article out there, while emphasizing on persuasion and influence. I agree that one of the key elements to persuasion is deliberate attempt to influence others. Meaning that both persuasion and influence works hand in hand. Your thoughts on ways to use persuasion strategies to improve leadership in developing countries?

    I know that with the speedy rate in technology advances, chances of transmitting persuasive strategies improves such as via television, radio, Internet or face-to-face communications.

  • Mark Hampton says:

    Dr. Jackson a powerful that must be continually consumed. The article really calibrates thinking. I’ll be reading it again!

    Good stuff –really good!


  • Devora Davis says:

    This article is very helpful to my knowledge of understanding people. Dr. Jackson, thank you. I am taking notes indeed.

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