Greenleaf writes: Leadership by persuasion has the virtue of change by convincement rather than coercion.
For Greenleaf ‘change by convincement’ involves the process he calls persuasion. For Greenleaf, persuasion is clear and concise. The persuader employs a non-judgmental argument via questions to help the other think logically and thus to convince oneself that the persuader’s ‘way’ is the correct way. One ‘convinces’ oneself and thus one ‘buys-into’ the view, perception, and/or reality of the persuader.
Servants and servant-leaders employ four distinct approaches (usually we use a blend of two or three of these with the result that the recipient is often confused by our approach). Here are the four approaches: Coercion, Manipulation, Persuasion and Influence. Greenleaf describes the first three; the fourth emerged into my consciousness many years ago as I thought there was a ‘gap’ – for me there was an approach that was missing.
The question I offer folks is this: What are the ingredients that must be in place for each of these approaches to be effective (that is, to get the leader what he/she needs, wants, desires, or wishes for)? I have a sense that all leaders employ each of these approaches. There are two questions for the leader. Does your approach (that is, your use of coercion, manipulation, persuasion or influence) get you what you want? What do you want?
For example. If I want you to comply and the ‘right’ ingredients are in place then coercion will work. If I want you to comply and adapt and the right ingredients are in place then manipulation will work. If I want you to ‘buy-in’ and the right ingredients are in place then persuasion will work. And if I want you to ‘emotionally-own’ the challenge, problem, paradox or dilemma and the right ingredients are in place then influence will work.
By the by, if the leader says to me: ‘The approach I use gets me what I want AND I know what I want’ then the potential for this leader to ‘do it differently’ is almost non-existent. There will be no motivation for him/her to do it differently. If the leader says to me: ‘The approach I use does not get me what I want.’ Or, if the leader says, ‘I don’t know what I want’ from the approach I use, then there is an opening (small or great) for the leader to seriously consider another approach. As any leader who has attempted to change or to add to his/her approaches knows the challenge to do so is a daunting one.
Leaders develop and integrate a ‘default’ approach that they go to when the pressure is on, when they feel whelmed over by stressors, or when they are highly anxious or when they feel fear-full or threatened. They developed and integrated this default response because it worked [worked enough at any rate] – although it might no longer ‘work’ today. By the by, knowing that it no longer works does not motivate the leader to change or transform his/her approach – knowledge, as we know, does not change anything. We shift, change, transform or evolve because we have a need to do so (and, as we know, a need trumps a want, desire or wish).