1. The single most important idea I learned in Part Six was the role of understanding people and what they want in the art of persuasion. From the descriptions of persuasive approaches of Napoleon, Vince Lombardi, and Lyndon Johnson it became clear that persuasion is not figuring out what you want and convincing others to do it. Instead, it is figuring out how to align your goals with the goals of others so both sets of goals can be achieved simultaneously. For example, when Napoleon needed his soldiers to fight, he made sure the reward would be what they wanted most – such as food or the respect of those back in the homeland. Vince Lombardi also supports the idea that understanding the mind of his players, their wants and needs, as key to effective coaching. Lyndon Johnson took this even farther, putting together mental intelligence reports about each member of the Senate. By understanding what each Senate member was trying to accomplish within their tenure in the Senate, he could align his goals with the right politician for each task. In his appeal to their overarching vision for themselves, Johnson would tailor what he was trying to accomplish, and greatly increase the chances of support from each individual Senator.
The idea that leadership actually involves mentally putting yourself into the shoes of those who you are leading is a recurring theme. Inspiring people to action does not involve changing people’s wholesale attitudes about an issue. Instead, as described in the reading, it involves changing the way an issue is approached or discussed such that it now accomplishes something that the person wanted in the first place. Lyndon Johnson convincing a Senator to join a delegation to Tokyo is an example of this, as he shifts the way the thinking of the Senator he wants to go. By describing the trip as being strongly sought after by other members and offering the one remaining seat, Johnson increases the chances that the chosen Senator will agree to go.
2. There are many opportunities for applying these lessons within the tasks of a director of a small information technology department. First, taking direction from Napoleon, I plan to select the rewards to conform to what is of highest importance to the majority of the group at that time. For example, if more free time is desired, maybe an early day for select members of the department could be earned by meeting a particular goal, or if more recognition within the company is wanted, maybe a profile within the company newsletter could be offered for whomever provides the best measurable performance on a particular task.
Next, by applying the ideas of Lombardi and Johnson, I will try to better understand what overarching goals the members of my team might have for their careers at the company. There are likely members who see themselves only as individual contributors and there are others who have a long-term goal of going into management. I would try to align the goals of individual members of the department with my goals for the department overall. If I can describe what I am trying to accomplish in a way that achieves what they are trying to do, persuasion becomes a matter of reframing an issue rather than convincing someone to do something. In particular, it is often helpful to frame an issue as to what could be lost in the situation – such as the loss of the opportunity to share gained knowledge with others – rather than trying to convince someone that they really do want to step into a management position. In this way I can use the wisdom of Napoleon, Lombardi, and Lyndon Johnson to shape my department into a set of people accomplishing both their personal goals and the goals I envision for the group.
Don’t forget to double space.