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Lead Like a Pro: Master the Art of Persuasion in Business

 My Three-Part Formula that will change the way you approach any situation

Master The Art of Persuasion in Business. Image of Business Women Walking Together.

Mastering the art of persuasion is invaluable in life’s negotiations, be it mediating conflicts, navigating personal requests, or steering professional conversations. As your coach, I’ve witnessed countless scenarios where the right words, delivered with understanding and empathy, have paved the way for remarkable transformations. Today, I want to share with you a powerful three-part formula that can potentially change the way you approach any situation requiring persuasion: Acknowledgement, Ambition, and Affect.

1. Acknowledgement: The Foundation of Persuasion

At the heart of successful persuasion lies the simple act of acknowledgment. It’s about seeing and appreciating the world through another’s eyes—understanding their struggles, acknowledging their challenges, and celebrating their successes. Before we ask anything of anyone, it’s crucial that we genuinely recognize their current reality. This not only fosters a connection but also lays a foundation of trust and openness. When people feel seen and understood, they’re more receptive to what comes next.

As an example, take Satya Nadella’s journey as she took over as CEO in 2014. Microsoft was experiencing significant challenges, including a lack of innovation and a toxic corporate culture marked by internal competition (think sharp elbows!). Nadella recognized the need for a shift in culture and started by acknowledging the company’s and its employees’ strengths and potential. He openly praised the talents and efforts of his team and emphasized the importance of learning from failures as much as from successes. This began to create a culture of innovation and independent thinking in the team. But, this was only the beginning…

2. Ambition – Stoking Ambition for a Brighter Future

With the foundation of acknowledgment being built, we jump next to inspire ambition. This isn’t about imposing our own aspirations onto others; rather, it’s about shining a light on the path to a future the team wants. By articulating how their actions can lead to both intrinsic rewards (like personal fulfillment, passion, and joy) and extrinsic rewards (such as recognition, status, or financial gain), we help them see the tangible benefits of embracing our persuasion. This step is about connecting dots from the present to a future where their actions today lead to rewarding outcomes tomorrow. 

Back to our example. Nadella was able to articulate an ambitious vision for Microsoft: to transform it from a company that focused mainly on personal computers to one that would lead in cloud computing and AI technologies. He inspired his team by sharing his vision of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This was not just about regaining market position but about setting new standards and goals for what Microsoft could achieve. And how his team could play their part in this grand vision.

Women in a business meeting.

3. Affect: The Emotional Catalyst

The last piece of this puzzle involves how we must infuse our persuasion with emotion, or affect. We are deeply emotional beings, driven by stories and feelings. By sharing compelling narratives or expressing our messages with emotional resonance, we can move people not just intellectually but at an emotional/empathetic level. It’s about making them feel the importance of what we’re saying, sparking a desire to act that transcends logical reasoning.

Understanding the importance of emotional engagement, Nadella encouraged a culture of empathy, collaboration, and a growth mindset. He shared personal stories and encouraged his team to do the same, fostering an environment where people felt emotionally invested in their work and the company’s mission. This approach helped shift the company culture from one of internal competition to one of collaboration and innovation.

How did that work out for him? Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft experienced a remarkable turnaround. The company regained its position as a leader in technology, with significant advancements and market share in cloud computing, AI, and other areas. The transformation of Microsoft under Nadella is a testament to the power of effective leadership that acknowledges individual contributions, sets ambitious goals, and fosters emotional engagement.


Applying the Persuasion Formula: A Reflective Exercise

Now, let’s put this formula into practice through a sentence completion exercise. Reflect on these prompts to harness the power of persuasion in your life:

  • An area of my life where I need to better persuade others is…
  • To acknowledge the person I wish to persuade, I would say…
  • The benefits for others resulting from their actions would be…
  • The consequences of inaction would look like…

Persuasion, when approached with sincerity and empathy, can be a force for incredible change. By acknowledging others, inspiring ambition, and engaging emotions, we can guide those around us towards positive decisions and actions. Remember, the essence of persuasion is not manipulation but mutual understanding and shared goals. 

As your coach, I encourage you to practice this formula the next time you have a meeting and watch as doors of possibility swing wide open. Leadership skills are a combination of natural abilities, training, intuition, and active listening. If you could use a little extra secret sauce, try coaching for a semester. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish in 90 days! 

Marilyn Dollar- Woman sitting at desk
Marilyn Dollar - The Woman's Coach

They call me the C-Suite Whisperer.

High-Performance Coach For Leaders and CEO’s. It’s time to embrace your true identity and grow into your next achievement!

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