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  • Jennie Antolak

The Influencer by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, & Al Switzler


Many times, the most complicated problems require simple solutions. And, often, where there is an issue, there are also tend to be outliers that have already solved it. @Jen Huerd realized these discoveries and more as she read The Influencer by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. Jen is now sharing her review of the book with us. She includes highlights of the authors' key messages and how the information applies to coaching.


A side note from Jen, "When I first bought Influencer, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I had assumed it would be a 'business' book or too academic. Boy, was I wrong. This book is a LIFE book, with applications to personal and professional aspects. In addition, it has clear connections and applications to life coaching. The authors did a great job breaking influence down and giving excellent, real life stories and examples, demonstrating that what they're positioning is real and it works."


Reviewer: Jen Huerd, Life Coach Practitioner

Book: Influencer

Authors: Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler


Key Messages:


1. Influence does not equal persuasion or manipulation. At my current job, we have a functional competency (an expectation of what we demonstrate in our work) around influence, but within it, NO WHERE does it mention understanding the other person’s role (aka the person being influenced) in influencing. As I learned in this book, influence doesn’t happen with sheer will or simply because I want someone to see things my way or because I’ve got enough facts or figures to convince. Rather, successful leaders are great influencers and vice versa because it’s not just a matter of managing – it’s a matter of the ability to create change in human behavior. It’s about engaging with those you want to influence and understanding their motivation and ability in order to truly influence to create lasting change.


2. In order for influencers to be successful, it’s critical to focus and measure. Influencers don’t make broad, sweeping, vague claims; rather they get super crisp and clear on the result they want to achieve. And once they do that, they then determine what success would look like to meet that result, and frequently track against those metrics. The measurement is maybe even more important than just identifying the end-game, because without knowing what to measure and identifying what ‘good’ looks like and then actually following through on assessing progress, the desired change would simply be empty words. Real influencers know that the right measure drives the right behavior.


3. In order to drive the right behavior, influencers know to identify vital behaviors that the change hinges on. It’s these 1-2 vital behaviors that require a shift in order to meet the desired result. But how do influencers know what behaviors are the 1-2 vital ones in the mix of all human behavior? They spot them by noticing the obvious, observing crucial moments (the ‘turning point’ in a sense of setting up toward great results or creating and/or continuing issues), by learning from positive deviants who do something different and achieve better results, or by looking to behaviors that bust current cultural norms.


Once influencers know what vital behaviors they want to change, they engage six sources of influence. These six sources create a matrix: motivation and ability crossed with personal, social and structural. Most people tend to rely on one or two sources of influence, but unless all six sources are engaged, real change or influence doesn’t occur or become a sustained change. The majority of the book details out how to do just that, and I love that the authors gave a snapshot that boils down what each source is driving toward:

· Personal Motivation: Help them love what they hate

· Personal Ability: Help them do what they can’t

· Social Motivation: Provide encouragement

· Social Ability: Provide assistance

· Structural Motivation: Change their economy

· Structural Ability: Change their space


Application to coaching:

Right away when I read about the sources of influence in this book, I was brought to Learning Journeys’ Circles of Influence model of Self, Others and World. In coaching, in order for an individual to make progress toward their goals and live their intention, they must think about all three of those factors.


When I was first introduced to this framework in Power of Possibility, I thought, yeah that’s interesting, but really the focus within life coaching needs to be on the self and the individual’s desires, strengths, truths, abilities, etc…right?! But I was wrong! This book unlocked and expanded on the value of the Circles of Influence model for me; the relationship among Self, Others and World (or Personal, Social and Structural to reference the book’s terminology) is crucial, and it’s our role as a coach to partner with our clients to explore all three, and then also the motivation and ability of each. Not just stop with self. And, not just use others or environment as a thing to blame when change doesn’t happen, but to help our clients determine what needs to change and where in order to sustain whatever they’re seeking. This was really eye-opening to me to make this connection between coaching class and this book.


Favorite passage:

Getting people to create their own direct experience is a powerful way to help them connect to genuine human consequences and ultimately find moral significance in vital behaviors. Field trips can do that. When you go out into the world on a field trip, so to speak, you can see firsthand what’s happening. Rather than simply hearing impassioned speeches or clever words (that can be easily discounted), you see for yourself what’s actually happening. You can feel the pain associated with the consequences you observe – all powerful tools in creating personal motivation.


I liked a lot of passages in this book, but when I revisited them as I’m writing this report, this one resonated with me again for a variety of reasons. First, in my job, I love it when my partners join in on research interviews – they get to hear from our guests live and experience what’s going on in their world. My partners then ‘own’ a bit of this experience and can tell stories of what they saw and heard, and it’s way more impactful than if I just come back from research with a PowerPoint report of key learnings and guest quotes. Second, when I teach yoga, I want to create an open space where my students can get what they need from class; I’ve begun to pose more questions throughout class that allow them to dig deeper to what they need/want internally and enable them to connect more to themselves within class. Third, I personally love field trips – this passage speaks to me because I know I’ve been impacted when I’ve experienced something for myself, and I get to decide what I take away from that experience rather than have someone tell me what I should make of it.

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