Friday, April 3, 2009

SPECIAL GUEST BLOG by Elaina Zuker on the changing nature of the New World

Here, Elaina Zuker, author of The Seven Secrets of Influence, looks at the diversity of issues facing today's workforce, and how your "Portable Power (TM) Tools" can help you achieve those crucial career goals.

Welcome to the New World of unprecedented change

As many of us are all too painfully aware, change seems to be the only constant these days. Many organizations (and the individuals in them) are, voluntarily or reluctantly, finding themselves in a world that may not resemble anything they ever imagined.

Economic conditions, changing social and political climates and current sociological trends in human behavior have led to a number of challenging issues in today’s workplace, in private industry, and especially in State Government.

Some of the most significant of these are:

New Technologies have revolutionized the flow of communications across departmental and functional lines. Even “technocrats” and former loners (individual contributors) now must work on teams and task forces with others. New technological advances, which promised to make our lives easier, and in many ways have, also have distanced us from our fellows. As John Naisbitt said in his book “Megatrends”, “HI-TECH leaps ahead, HIGH TOUCH lags behind”. In other words, we are losing the very important personal contact with other individuals, and our human interaction skills are getting rusty in the process.

More and more, we will have to influence others in order to achieve our own goals.

Innovation is no longer just the province of ”research” or “development”. Now, we are all required to come up with innovative solutions to problems. But good ideas are just that, until you can influence someone to take action. So, we are all going to have to become better influencers.

New Worker Values. There is a new sociology in today’s workforce: workers are more sophisticated, have different expectations and want less of a “command” style and more of an “influence” style from their management. Managers will have to learn new ways of managing and motivating their people in a more open, participative, “influencing” fashion.

Organizational Structures are changing in rapidly accelerating ways. Most organizations are becoming flatter, less hierarchical. This is partly the result of much “streamlining”, “downsizing” and “reorganizing”. Networks and staff roles become much more important in this kind of structure, and there is much more need for interdepartmental and cross-functional collaboration. People at all levels must learn new sets of skills - Influence Skills - in order to survive in this “matrix” type of organization (some have called it the new “ad-hocracy”)

With all these changes and uncertainties going on, neither WHAT (your technical or professional expertise) you know nor WHO you know (your network of contacts) will guarantee your success. Your technical know-how can become obsolete with the next new innovation, and even your network of carefully acquired contacts can vanish overnight with a surprise “reorganization”.

What will help? Portable Power (TM) Influence skills - a set of Skills you can take with you any time, anywhere you are in any organization.

What is Influence? We define Influence as the “power to affect change, or to achieve a result, without the use of force or formal authority”. This means that in order to be truly influencing, you must cause a change of some kind in another’s behavior, actions, attitudes or values. In some cases, the desired effect might not be immediately apparent, as in changing attitudes. This can be a much longer process and will only result in changed behavior at a later time. And notice that we are saying that Influence is different from formal authority. Any bully can say, “I’m the boss and you must do as I say”, but that requires no skill. We have seen that while some may be “born Influencers”, almost anyone can learn to develop these basic skills. We believe Influence is a simple but powerful tool to help you get the results you want.

Some Myths About Influence

Many people believe that the ability to influence others is simply a matter of good communications skills. Not so. Communications skills are only one part of the equation in getting other people to do what you want them to do. To achieve enthusiastic cooperation and consistent high performance, successful influencers use a carefully orchestrated, strategic approach.

Some people think that “real” managers do not need influence skills.” After all, the manager can demand that the staff carry out instructions. Wrong again. Today’s employees are less likely to mindlessly obey the old style, “top-down” kind of management.

Finally, the word “influence” is often maligned, especially in government, and thought to connote manipulation. Is there a difference, or is the use of “influence” just another way of saying “manipulation”?

A way to distinguish between the two is that while “manipulation”, strictly speaking, means “skillful handling” an interaction can be said to be a positive influence when the influencer has the intention to provide value, ad benefit or enhance the experience of the other person. It can be called “manipulation” if there is an intention to exploit or mislead the other, or to misrepresent the product or service. Positive influence has as its result a “win-win” outcome. Both parties in the transaction reach their goals and sometimes even exceed them.

How Can You Learn to Be a Better Influencer?

Research has shown that there are six basic influence styles we all use. We determine this by the use of a specially designed questionnaire, Secrets of Influence ™Inventory”, which we use in our seminars, (a version of the Inventory and a detailed analysis of all six styles is contained in the book, “The Seven Secrets of Influence”) Each style is a “road”- an approach, made up of a number of different skills or behaviors. For example, one of the styles, called “Telling” or “Analyst” describes a person who favors reason, logic and an orderly process for influencing others. This is the kind of person who must see concrete and solid evidence and data, in order to be convinced.

Other styles are characterized by skills and behaviors such as negotiation, or gaining rapport, strong listening, or creating a sense of vision or mission.

Most of us use one dominant or preferred style, and while it is interesting to become aware of one’s own style, if you are only using the same style all the time, you may not be as effective as you can be.

The real key to successful influencing is our “formula” INFLUENCE = ATTENTIVENESS = FLEXIBILITY. That is, one must learn to become aware of other peoples’ styles, (Attentiveness) and then develop the Flexibility to shift into another’s style, so that they feel most comfortable. People are usually influenced by a style similar to their own.

The result? You will be a more effective influencer, and will have a set of your own “Portable Power Tools” to enhance your success in the fast-changing, exciting workplace of the 21st Century


To learn more about how to determine your own Personal Influence Profile, how to analyze your Influence Styles and those of others, and how to put these powerful tools and skills to work for you, you can order the book, The Seven Secrets of Influence, which was released in March, or visit the website
Elaina Zuker

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