Leading With Influence and Persuasion in Public Media

Membership, Corporate Support, Major Giving, General Management, leadership

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Leadership roles in public media are often very challenging and complex. Whether you’re a GM, a PD, marketing director, underwriting director, or membership director, we are all responsible for creating strategies and painting a vision. However, when leading a team, creating consensus and alignment is not an easy task.

My go-to source for enhancing my ability to persuade people without coercion, is a book titled “The Art of Woo.” The authors Mario Moussa and G. Richard Shell both teach at the Wharton School. “Woo” refers to the ability to “Win Others Over.” It’s this ability to persuade, according to the book, that allows us to achieve our business goals.

Develop Trusting Internal Business Relationships

Woo is basically relationship-based persuasion: a strategic process for getting people’s attention, presenting your ideas, and obtaining approval for your plans and projects. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to develop trusting relationships. Such settings enable people to catch nonverbal cues such as voice-tone, body language, and emotional emphasis.

Cultivate Self-Awareness 

Taking a deeper dive into what persuasion skills and aptitudes you bring to the table will surely benefit your leadership influence. The authors’ extensive research at the Wharton School reveals that, regardless of the positions people occupy, they rely on six main channels of influence to solve problems.

  1. Authority (usually used in “top-down” situations)
  2. Rationality (attempting to influence someone’s attitudes or beliefs by offering reasons or evidence to justify a proposal on its merits)
  3. Vision (any appeal to an audience’s overriding sense of purpose and values)
  4. Relationships (a positive relationship favorably predisposes an audience toward your message)
  5. Self-Interest ( interest-based influence takes place when someone frames an idea in terms of the other party’s self-interest)
  6. Politics (social scientists define politics as processes by which individuals, usually working in groups, try to exert influence over actions of a larger organization). 

Most people mix several of these modes in important influence encounters, while most people have different styles of using the six influence channels. In social situations, do you tend to be bold and brassy or restrained and thoughtful? In the way different musicians have different styles playing the notes on a musical instrument, we all have our individual influence styles. The key is to be mindful and aware of what style you are using and in what situation as well as knowing your audience.

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Transformational Major Giving Pilot Program

Rockstar Bono, lead singer of U2 and a well-known social entrepreneur, has an interesting strategy to influence and persuade people. When he first approaches a new government group, industrial association, or nonprofit network, he asks everyone he speaks with a key question: “Who is the Elvis here?” He wants to find his way as quickly as possible to the pivotal person who controls the actual influence in the organization. Bono recognizes that the ultimate decision-maker has the “authority” to influence their group. 

Recognize the Value of Credibility 

Deep trusting relationships can also be a source of credibility. By associating yourself with people and institutions known and respected by your audience, the audience will be inclined to listen to what you have to say and be open to your ideas. However, credibility by association can take you only so far. In the end, credibility derives mainly from what an audience thinks about your own actions and reputation.

This book is loaded with strategies to lead teams to achieve goals along with proven methods to help organizational leaders reach the hearts and souls of their organizations. As the media ecosystem continues to change, “The Art of Woo” is a learning resource that can help strengthen the toolbox of any public media leader.

Transformational Major Giving Pilot Program

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