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Continuing the series on Leaders as Performers, I’ve stated that performing is real behavior in a manufactured environment (credit to the Ports at Heroic Public Speaking), and that performing is not a manipulation of others.

Performance is, however, influencing. As I wrote last time, human to human interaction is quite often about influencing the other person. I’ll repeat part of that discussion here:

“Two friends getting together for coffee to catch up, someone sitting with a grieving spouse whose partner just died, a parent comforting their child during their first breakup, how do these situations involve influencing? …let me state it clearly. Two friends with coffee – don’t you do that to maintain or deepen the relationship? Isn’t there an unspoken agreement that we don’t want to feel isolated and alone, that we want to enjoy each other’s company, feel connected and increase our own and the other’s happiness or contentment with life? Sitting with a grieving spouse – do we not have an unspoken desire for them to feel comfort in our presence, to let them know they are not alone, that we are there for them as best we can in their time of grief? Your child’s first breakup – isn’t your desire as a parent also to comfort, to help them through it, to let them know you (and everyone else) has experienced this as well and they will get through it?”

Leading is nothing if not influencing. Again, from the previous post: “To be successful as a leader, you must be able to convince those that are following that your ideas, plans, hopes, dreams, vision, etcetera are the right ones to follow.”

So how do you do this without manipulating? In no specific order, the following guiding principles will help.

First is clarity. Clarity of concept, clarity of ideas, clarity of messaging, clarity of expectations, clarity of communication. Am I making myself clear (see what I did there)? You must be clear, both within yourself on what you are doing, why you are doing it, how you are going to do it and clear in all your communication with your staff of the same things. When you are clear, there is no manipulation, it is a mutual agreement with all involved that this is the direction we are heading, the “thing” we are doing and so forth.

Second is simplicity. If you want clarity, simplicity is vital. The more complicated the message, the more likely it is for confusion and misunderstanding to enter the picture. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid (according to wikipedia, first used around 1960 by Kelly Johnson a naval engineer at Lockheed). While not the most flattering of sayings, it is a wonderful guiding principle many of us would do well to keep in mind when we are developing our grand plans.

Third is to understand your desired outcome or objective. By this, I mean not only your ultimate outcome you are looking for, such as increased performance or sales, but also what is the objective of each interaction you are having. What are you hoping for? What is the desired result of this specific conversation at this specific time? Are you needing this person to complete a specific task by a certain time? Or perhaps you want them to feel valued and part of the team? Those two outcomes are very different and require a different approach to the interaction, which brings us to the fourth and final point for this post.

Fourth, bring forth those parts of your personality that will most likely bring you the desired outcome you are looking for. In the two situations in the previous paragraph, you would want different aspects for each situation. If you need a report by noon so you can incorporate it into your presentation, you will want to communicate urgency and possibly some frustration with the person you need the information from. Conversely, if you are wanting to communicate that they are a valued part of the team, you would communicate empathy, caring and engagement with their situation. In both situations, you are influencing for the desired outcome you need to further the larger goals of a successful company or department.

And yes, sometimes you are trying to do both at the same time. And that is more difficult, mixed messages can occur and sometimes you have to get even more clear by spelling it out. “I want you to know you are a valuable part of this team, but I have to tell you, I am rather frustrated that you haven’t competed that report I asked for. I need it within the next hour.” Then later you can circle back to discuss the expectations, roadblocks and other impediments that person encountered in competing the assignment.

That is all for this post. If you want some assistance on how to do this, contact me one of the ways listed below.


Dr. Jeff


[email protected]



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