Persuasion and influence are important components of leadership. Persuasion involves convincing others to accept a certain point of view or to take a particular action. Influence, on the other hand, involves the ability to affect the behavior or actions of others without necessarily persuading them (source)
Effective leaders often use both persuasion and influence to inspire and motivate their followers to achieve common goals.
Comparing persuasion and influence
Persuasion and influence are two concepts that are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences in terms of their approach and outcomes. Understanding these differences can be important for leaders who want to be more effective in their communication and leadership strategies.
Persuasion is a communication technique that involves convincing someone to change their attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. The goal of persuasion is to change someone’s mind or to motivate them to take a particular action. It is often used in situations where a leader needs to convince someone to do something that they may not want to do or to believe something that they may not initially agree with.
Influence, on the other hand, is a broader concept that encompasses all of the ways in which a leader can affect the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors of their followers.
Influence can be achieved through a variety of means, including persuasion, but it can also be achieved through the leader’s example, their expertise, their position of authority, or other factors. The goal of influence is not necessarily to change someone’s mind, but to shape their behavior in a way that aligns with the leader’s goals and vision.
The difference between the two concepts can be seen in their approach and outcomes.
Persuasion is often a more direct and forceful approach, with the goal of changing someone’s mind or behavior through argument, logic, or emotional appeal.
Influence, on the other hand, can be more subtle and indirect, with the goal of shaping behavior over time through modeling, trust, and relationship building.
There are situations where one approach may be more effective than the other.
For example, persuasion is more effective in situations where a leader needs to make a quick decision or change, and needs to overcome resistance or skepticism from their followers. An autocratic, bureaucratic or transactional leader might use persuasion to convince followers.
Influence may be more effective in situations where the leader needs to build a long-term relationship with their followers, and needs to create a culture of trust and respect that will lead to sustained success. The authentic, transformational and visionary leader might use the technique of influencing his or her followers.
A quick comparison of the features:
Convincing someone to change attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors
Affecting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors through various means
Change someone’s mind or motivate them to take a particular action
Shape behavior to align with the leader’s goals and vision
Direct and forceful, using argument, logic, or emotional appeal
Subtle and indirect, using modeling, trust, and relationship building
Quick decision or change, overcoming resistance or skepticism
Long-term relationship building, creating a culture of trust and respect
More effective in situations requiring quick decisions or changes
More effective in situations requiring long-term relationship building and sustained success
While persuasion and influence are often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences in terms of their approach and outcomes.
Effective leaders need to understand these differences and be able to use both techniques appropriately to achieve their goals and create a culture of success for their team or organization.
Therefore, I’ve written two blogs that elaborate on the two techniques.
The book on persuasion that I would recommend is “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini.
The book is a classic in the field of psychology and has been widely praised for its insights into human behavior and the psychology of influence.
In the book, Cialdini describes six principles of influence: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity. He explores each of these principles in detail and provides examples of how they can be used in real-world situations.