W49D2 - Persuasion

"Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your
servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in
revering your name. Give your servant success today
by granting him favor in the presence of this man" - Nehemiah 1:11.

Nehemiah was a servant in the king's court and he was facing the daunting task of persuading his master to release him for a season to go back and rebuild Jerusalem. Nehemiah knew that he had no 'leverage' with the king, except for his excellent service record in the royal court. What did Nehemiah do? He prayed that God would give him favor so he could be persuasive in the king's presence. Leaders would do well to pray the same prayer, otherwise they will command people to perform, and probably see the followers comply. Yet there is no 'buy-in' or transformation of hearts and minds when people are forced to comply. When they choose to follow based on a persuasive presentation, however, the follower and leader both see more lasting and effective results.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to pray like Nehemiah prayed. For what are you praying? You are asking for a persuasive tongue that can paint a vivid picture of why someone should respond or comply to the direction you see. Part of that is establishing a credible reputation among those with whom you work, just like Nehemiah did. Then the other part is framing your argument in such a way that people can see it, ask questions and then willingly agree to follow.

W44D2 - Persuasion

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks;
 let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make
the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They
are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to
our God.’ Make the work harder for the people so that they keep
working and pay no attention to lies" - Exodus 5:7-9.

The Pharaoh of Moses' era was the quintessential tyrant, whose tyrannical ways impacted and devastated his country to such an extent that it never recovered its greatness or stature. He epitomizes the command-and-control leadership style that characterized the industrial revolution and is still in vogue today. The 'boss' sits at the top and judges the capabilities and motivation of the workers. When the 'boss' is not happy, then the 'boss' cracks the whip to get more of what the 'boss' wants. If the people suffer in the process, the 'boss' is not in the mood to care and sees the workers as replaceable and expendable parts of production. Contrast the boss with the servant leader, who exercises listening, persuasion and service not only to get production but also to build up the people.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to determine which leadership style you prefer and exercise: 'boss' or servant. Do you use servant tactics when they work but revert to 'boss' mode when your own back is against the wall? What style would your followers say that you employ? Do you read and study the servant leadership model, or any model for that matter, to develop your leadership skills? Do you use command-and-control or 'boss' techniques when you lead?

W39D2 - Persuasion

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them
whatever I command you. Do not be terrified
by them, or I will terrify you before them" - Jeremiah 1:17.

Jeremiah spoke as a prophet to Judah. He had no official title, position or authority, except that he carried the word from God concerning what God's people should do at that point in history. Jeremiah had nothing but his credibility, the words he spoke and direction from God as he stood before the people, most of whom had little interest in what he was saying. Yet the Lord told him to stand up and speak without fear. Seldom are leaders without any leadership authority like Jeremiah, yet they are commissioned with the same task of standing in front of people and followers and using words to persuade them to take a particular course of action or adopt a certain attitude.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Leaders who use a command-and-rule style get results, but the results stop when their authority stops or the pressure is removed. Your Step today is to examine if you have influenced or controlled people as you lead. If you are afraid to stopc controlling because people may not do what you desire, then you are using power to get your way. In that case, it's time to address your fear and adjust your style, using power to influence rather than rule.

W34D2 - Persuasion

"I plead with you, brothers and sisters,
become like me, for I became like you.
You did me no wrong" - Galatians 4:12.

Paul had a special relationship with all the churches he founded and that gave him some measure of authority in their lives. Yet he was always careful not to overstep that authority, but rather spent a great deal of time and energy appealing, even pleading with them (but seldom ordering them), to adhere to the standard of behavior he expected from them as believers. Effective leaders do the same thing, for they know that if they order someone to do something, they may get compliance for a while, but the people ordered will revert to old behaviors eventually and true change and transformation will not occur once the leader's authority is removed. That means leaders must communicate a vivid picture of the benefits or necessity of the issue for which they are advocating.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If you are not going to resort to power to get people to do what's best, then you must develop the skill of passionate persuasion to get the job done. Your Step today is to examine the tools you use for persuasion - speech, writing, media, meetings - and the effectiveness of the relationships you have with your followers that enables you to produce the results and the changes you need to make your people and company better off in the long run.

W29D2: Persuasion

"We must pay the most careful attention, therefore,
to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" - Hebrews 2:1.

It is everyone's tendency not to pay attention when their mind wanders or zones out. That is why leaders need to be mindful of their need to communicate often and well. It is not how well leaders speak or write that is most important, but how well followers and listeners understand and retain what leaders say. Leaders should accept responsibility for making sure good communication occurs. That means leaders must say important things more than once, using different media to say it, and must work to help listeners pay attention and retain.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How are you most effective at holding people's attention? You cannot persuade them if they are not listening or reading. Your Step today is to establish feedback on all your communication that is accurate and meaningful. You can watch your numbers of readers if you write or blog, use surveys for feedback if you speak or teach, take questions whenever you communicate, or simply watch to see if people are doodling, sleeping or listening when you talk.

W24D2 - Persuasion

"Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt, so that you may know
how to answer everyone" - Colossians 4:6.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." The classic image of leaders has them barking out order, reminding people who is in charge and what will happen if they do not comply with the leader's wishes and demands. Franklin's insight and today's verse seem to recommend a different approach. Leadership is all about influence and influence stems from persuasion - convincing followers of the rightness of a course or task as opposed to ordering compliance and obedience. And persuasion is composed of the right words spoken in the right way by a credible source.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How much do you rely on direct orders and commands to get your job done? Today' s Step is to consider a different way. One way you can know if you are persuading is if you give followers a chance to ask you questions - even difficult, challenging ones. You can make this practice a part of your regular staff meetings or have special one-on-one question-and-answer sessions. This means you will have to allow more time for these encounters.

W19D2 - Persuasion

"The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
    and their lips promote instruction" - Proverbs 16:23.

Persuasion is a key component of servant leadership, for coercion and manipulation to force compliance is not acceptable to those who have the best interests of others at heart. This simply means that leaders must work to discover ways to paint pictures of new realities that allow people to see and accept them on their own terms. Jesus was clear that the source for gracious, persuasive words was the heart and not the brain, for He said that the mouth speaks out of the abundance or lack of the heart. Leaders must therefore work on their heart to increase their ability to influence others.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If you are saying one thing and doing another, people see the inconsistency and it affects your ability as a leader to persuade them to change their own behavior. Therefore today you must examine if you are modeling the very behavior or practice you are attempting to persuade others to adopt. For example, are you tardy but urging others not to be? Spend some time in honest self reflection and correct areas that detract from your credibility.

W14D2 - Persuasion

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak
and slow to become angry" - James 1:19.

Someone once said that we have two ears and one mouth; therefore, we should listen twice as much as we talk. That can be difficult for leaders because they are often intelligent, quick and competitive, so they often want to overcome their opponents and win their doubters with their persuasive arguments and presentations. Yet the art of persuasion that does not coerce is actually based in asking good questions and listening intently to the answers.  This goes right along with Stephen Covey's fifth habit of effective people, which is first to understand others, then attempt to be understood.

LEADERSHIP STEP: In the first two entires on persuasion, you did a study of the tongue in Proverbs. Today you will do the same but this time search Proverbs for the words listen, ear and hear. Next time you will do the same in the gospels, but for now see how important this concept of listening was for the wisdom writer. Then work over the next month on asking good questions and listening intently to understand others.  A good place to start this is at home or with friends.

W9D2 - Persuasion

"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
    and a gentle tongue can break a bone" - Proverbs 25:15.

Persuasion is one of the key elements of effective leadership, especially of what's known as servant leadership. Many leaders take some time to make a decision, announce the decision and don't allow followers the same amount of time to process. That's where persuasion comes into play, for leaders must make a skilled presentation that will allow followers to be convinced in their own mind of the correctness of the decision. What's more, persuasion cannot be a manipulating sales job, but rather a sincere and patient attempt to explain the rightness of a course of action, allowing people to conclude for themselves of its value.

LEADERSHIP STEP: In W4D2, you were directed to do a study of the tongue and words as presented in the book of Proverbs. Did you do that? Let's revisit that exercise, looking up the words tongue, lips and speech in Proverbs using Bible Gateway. Once you have your list, go over it one more time to see where you can improve your speech to be more persuasive and convincing, rather than just relying on your power to order people to comply.

W4D2 - Persuasion

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that
in such a short time you can persuade me to
be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long—
I pray to God that not only you but all who are
listening to me today may become what I am,
except for these chains'" - Acts 26:28-29.

Paul was in chains, but he was making a strong case that almost persuaded Agrippa to become a believer. On occasions, leaders issue orders. It is much more effective, however, if people buy in to the idea, decision or concept. That requires that the leader paint a vivid picture of the need for or benefit of a new reality. To do that, the leader must have credibility, good communication skills, and understand the people with whom he or she is working. That requires work, which is why some leaders just fall back on a command-and-control style of leadership - it takes less time and the leader is sure to gain compliance, at least temporarily.

LEADERSHIP STEP: The Bible has much to say about the tongue, especially the book of Proverbs. Your step today is to do a quick study of the words 'lips' and 'speech' in Proverbs. You can use the online program BibleGateway to conduct this search. Just put those words in the 'search' box and then print out the results. Take this list with you this week and study what it has to say about effective influence and speech.