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TECH TALK: Good Books: Shackleton and Influence

November 6th, 2002 · No Comments

Shackletons Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer
By Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell

Reading about Shackleton is one of the most amazing lessons in leadership. He was a great explorers. In 1914, he led a team of explorers to the Antarctic. Their ship hit an iceberg. They were 1200 miles from civilization, with no means of communications or hope for rescue. The book traces their journey and how Shackleton ensured that every one of the team made it to safety. A book like this makes the challenges faced by Shackleton so vivid that it creates a lasting impression.

The authors link Shackletons actions in the face of extreme adversity to leadership lessons that we can learn. While the lessons by themselves may not be new or different, reading Shackletons experiences makes it come alive, and perhaps, makes the learning more lasting. We tend to remember more when we have experienced something or read/seen others experience it. By reliving the journey of Shackleton and his men through nearly two years of arduous conditions, one can learn a lot of lessons which can be applied in life and business. Here are a few examples:

Be bold in vision and careful in planning. Dare to try something new, but be meticulous enough in your proposal to give your ideas a good chance of succeeding.

Your No. 2 is your most important hire. Pick one who complements your management style, shows loyalty without being a yes-man, and has a talent for working with others.

Break down traditional hierarchies and cliques by training workers to do a number of jobs, from the menial to the challenging.

Match the person to the position. Be observant of the types of people who are working for you and what jobs might best suit their personalities as well as their experience.

When crisis strikes, immediately address your staff. Take charge of the situation, offer a plan of action, ask for support and show absolute, confidence in a positive outcome.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
By Robert Cialdini

The book was first published in 1984, but is as relevant today as it was then. It talks about weapons of influence in marketing how tricks and mindgames are used by those selling, and what we can do to learn (or resist) them. Using a variety of examples, Cialdini presents six principles used by compliance practitioners reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity.

Heres an excerpt from CSJ.org on one of the principles: Reciprocity.

According to sociologists and anthropologists, one of the most widespread and basic norms of human culture is embodied in the rule of reciprocity. The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient of an act to repayment in the future, the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with confidence that it is not being lost. This sense of future obligation within the rule makes possible the development of various kinds of continuing relationships, transactions, and exchanges that are beneficial to the society. Consequently, all members of the society are trained from childhood to abide by the rule or suffer serious social disapproval. The decision to comply with another’s request is frequently influenced by the reciprocity rule. One favorite and profitable tactic of certain compliance professionals is to give something to another before asking for a return favor. The exploitability of this tactic is due to three characteristics of the rule for reciprocation:

1. the rule is extremely powerful, often overwhelming the influence of other factors that normally determine compliance with a request;

2. the rule applies even to uninvited first favors, thereby reducing our ability to decide whom we wish to owe and putting the choice in the hands of others;

3. the rule can spur unequal exchanges; to be rid of the uncomfortable feeling of indebtedness, an individual will often agree to a request for a substantially larger favor than the one he or she received. Another way that the rule for reciprocity can increase compliance involves a simple variation on the basic theme: instead of providing a first favor that stimulates a return favor, an individual can make an initial concession that stimulates a return concession. One compliance procedure, called the rejection-then-retreat technique, or door-in-the-face technique, relies heavily on the pressure to reciprocate concessions. By starting with an extreme request that is sure to be rejected, a requester can then profitably retreat to a smaller request (the one that was desired all along), which is likely to be accepted because it appears to be a concession. Research indicates that, aside from increasing the likelihood that a person will say yes to a request, the rejection-then-retreat technique also increases the likelihood that the person will carry out the request a will agree to future such requests.

Tomorrow: What Management Is and Drucker


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