The X-factor of leadership is social influence – Epilogue

Social psychology has a number of lessons on leadership as the power of leadership, it’s x-factor comes from social influence. Leadership and influence become even more important when ‘authority’ fails and formal structures and systems get stuck.

The last weeks we discussed five sources of influence which can be easily linked to leadership and development.

1) the importance of giving (before taking). People will want to give back.
2) Provide social proof: people do what other people do when they feel uncertain.
3) Let people make choices out of free will.
4) Improve collaboration by defining shared goals
5) Develop natural authority, e.g. by being an expert.

There are other sources of social influence, like e.g. the rule of ‘scarcity’*. When you make the offer ‘rare’ or ‘special’, people will be more interested. But this principle applies less to leadership. Influencing is not about ‘manipulating’. It’s not having a hidden agenda and trick someone into something. But being more aware of how we are influenced (and most of the time in a correct way) and how we influence other people gives more personal freedom and therefore choice and added value. It seems to me that this should be a core element of each leadership development program.

Any Comments?

* CIALDINI, Robert (2007). The psychology of persuasion. New York: HarperCollins publishers, 320 p.

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About Koen Marichal

Director Future Leadership Initiative at Antwerp Management School
This entry was posted in 1. Connection & benevolence, 10. Freedom & choice, 11. Inluence & reciprocity, Academic insights & evidence, English and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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