Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Art of Woo, a Quiet Leader Requirement

Quiet leaders have to be persuasive. For those of us who are quiet leaders, force is not an option when you need to sell an idea. Most of us don't like to shout. We are not going to get in your face. We have to flat out be persuasive.

If you are a quiet leader, particularly a small l leader (Read an earlier post to understand the difference between Big L and small l leaders), you probably have situations every day where you need to sell an idea, an approach, concept, or plan. Or as quiet leaders try to do, build consensus. How does a quiet leader accomplish this persuasion?

A Knowledge@Wharton newsletter recently caught my attention. The topic the the letter was the "Art of Woo."

The concept of woo can take on several meanings. The common definition has to do with the effort to "sue for the affection of." Let's try to leave this out of the workplace.

Instead, the definition that is the focus of this post and the book, The Art of Woo: Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas relates to the concept of woo as the ability to "win others over" to your ideas without coercion, using relationship-based, emotionally intelligent persuasion.

The research and case study of authors Shell and Mousa, lead to a four-step approach to the Woo process:

  • Polish the idea.
  • Confront the the five barriers that include unreceptive beliefs, conflicting interests, negative relationships, lack of credibility, and failing to adjust communication to the audience.
  • Pitch the idea with your best compelling approach.
  • Secure both organizational and individual commitments.

The authors with there experience in negotiations also cited three typical mistakes that I also found interesting:
  • Focusing on yourself rather than your audience
  • Just winging it thinking that there is no process
  • Forgetting about organizational politics

I have lots of wooing that I need to accomplish in the next few weeks and have a newly discovered process and confidence for the task.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.


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