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The 17th method is, be influenceable. In my research I spoke at length with Tony Hsieh, the founder and CEO of Zappos.com, which he led to being a sensationally successful business with a vibrant culture and very happy employees. He's one of the most influential leaders of his era. But, he's also one of the most influenceable people you'll ever meet. Tony says, being humble is not thinking less of yourself, it's about thinking of yourself less.
Being influenceable isn't about giving in, giving up, being weak or soft, being scared, or being any less committed to your principles and to excellent results. And, being influencable doesn't mean you're not going to disagree. Being influencable does mean being both open minded and open hearted. Why? Because people tend to open their minds more to people who've opened their own minds. And to open their hearts to people who permit themselves to be inspired. Here's what to do. First, don't win arguments.
Instead, win hearts and minds. Catch yourself when you hear that inner voice saying either, I'm winning this argument, or I'm losing this argument. When you argue, you trigger people's urge to defend themselves or prevail over you. The situation becomes more about winning or losing than gaining, and when that happens, when ego trumps substance you are destined to lose sooner or later. Research on leaders who consider themselves the best problem solver in the group because of their greater intelligence, skill, or experience are less effective because they fail to ask for enough input from others on the team.
Second, let people know in a confident tone that their contributions have a positive effect on you. Say things like, thank you, I hadn't looked at it that way before, or, I appreciate how you're challenging me on this. Third, let them know a positive quality that you're working to improve, such as listening better. But isn't that weak? No, not if you own it and declare it with confidence. It's authentic, they already know that we're not perfect. We're not fooling anyone by pretending there's nothing we need to improve.
Further, it gives them an opening to add value to us that we really want, and when we make a mistake, it invites their understanding and support instead of resentment and frustration. We trust people more who are open to learn. So keep growing and let them know what you want to grow. Influence isn't just about getting our way. It's about earning our way into the hearts and minds of people to make things better.
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