Terry R. Bacon is a Scholar in Residence in the Korn/Ferry Institute. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lore International Institute. He has a B.S. in engineering from West Point and a PhD in literary studies from The American University. He has also studied business and leadership at Goddard College, Roosevelt University, University of Chicago, Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard. He is a prolific author and speaker, having written more than one hundred articles, white papers, and books, including Selling to Major Accounts, Winning Behavior, The Behavioral Advantage, Adaptive Coaching, Powerful Proposals, What People Want, and The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence (AMACOM, January 2011). Bacon’s latest book, Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead, was also published by AMACOM in July 2011.
He is chairman of the Fort Lewis College Foundation board and president of Music in the Mountains, a summer classical music festival in Durango, Colorado. During the last four years, Leadership Excellence has named him one of the top 100 thinkers on leadership in the world. You can learn more about him and his ideas and works at http://www.terryrbacon.com/, http://www.theelementsofpower.com/ or http://www.booksbyterryrbacon.com/.
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Terry. To read the complete interview, please click here.
To read my first interview of him, please click here.
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Morris: When and why did you decide to write Elements of Influence?
Bacon: I have been researching power and influence for more than 20 years. In 1990, I created the Survey of Influence Effectiveness, a 360-degree assessment of power, influence frequency, and influence effectiveness. After the instrument was validated, we began collecting data from business people around the world. Several years ago, I began to analyze the data and found that we had a gold mine of information on how people build their power bases and how they use power to lead and influence others. Some of the results confirmed my hypotheses about power and influence, but other results were unexpected and gave me some new insights into leadership through influence.
Morris: To what extent is it an extension of Elements of Power?
Bacon: I began writing them at the same time. Initially, I had intended to write one book on power and influence, but the more I wrote the more I realized that the subject was bigger than I could reasonably explore in a single book. I had lunch in New York with my editor, Ellen Kadin, and told her how large the book had become, and she suggested separating the topics and doing two books. So Elements of Influence is very much an extension of The Elements of Power. They complement each other very well.
Morris: What differentiates it from Elements of Power?
Bacon: In The Elements of Power, I describe the eleven sources of power people can have—where that power comes from, how people can become powerful in each of the eleven ways, and how those power sources can become power drains. Character, for instance, can be a huge source of power for people who are perceived to be moral exemplars, but if they do something unethical or immoral, they can lose that power very quickly. Eliot Spitzer is a good example of this. Throughout this book, I also explain how readers can build each of these power sources. The second book, Elements of Influence, describes how people use their power to lead and influence others. This book describes the ten ethical influence techniques and the four unethical means of influencing others. Together, these books provide a complete picture of what enables anyone to make a difference in the world. The subtitle of the influence book is The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead, and that really captures the essence of both books.
Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing Elements of Influence?
Bacon: I had done a substantial amount of research before writing the book, so many of the head-snapping revelations occurred as I was reviewing the research findings. It was impossible not to be surprised and amazed as I examined those findings in depth and realized that some of my preconceptions about power and influence were wrong and as I learned more about this fascinating topic. One huge surprise, for instance, was the enormous leverage that expressiveness power has on a person’s effectiveness at leading and influencing others. Another surprise was how power and influence differed in the 45 cultures I studied. Of course, I also had some interesting revelations as I wrote the book. As a writer, I always create a fairly detailed outline of a book before I start writing, but the writing process itself is always one of discovery. For me, that is one of the joys of writing. No matter how much I think I know about a subject, I always discover more—and have some intriguing realizations—as I write.
Morris: To what extent (if any) does it differ in final form from what you originally envisioned? Please explain.
Bacon: As a writer, I do a tremendous amount of up-front work on books, so I know what the books is about, what I’m going to say in each chapter, and essentially how the book will look when it’s finished. So, once I’d made the decision to write about the power and influence topics in separate books, the final form of those books did not differ substantially from what I had originally envisioned. However, the content of the chapters evolved as I wrote them because, for me, like other writers, the process of writing is a journey of clarification and discovery.
Morris: What are the most significant differences between your book and others that also examine influence, persuasion, etc?
Bacon: A number of the books on influence and persuasion are primarily oriented toward marketing, so when those authors speak about influencing people, they often mean influencing consumers or buyers. Even Robert Cialdini’s classic book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, emphasizes how influence is used by marketers, peddlers, and salespeople. In Elements of Influence and the work I’ve done on power, I have focused more broadly on how people influence each other in everyday life: in business, at home, at school, in the professions, in the arts, and so on. I’m not as interested in the marketing applications of influence as I am in how people try to influence each other all the time. Furthermore, as comprehensive as Cialdini is, he doesn’t discuss every influence technique, such as engaging people by consulting them or influencing scores of people by being a role model. Gandhi, for instance, continues to influence millions of people (who never knew him) by being a role model of non-violent resistance.
Some other books on influence make outlandish claims. One promises to teach you how to get anyone to do anything. Another, titled The Science of Influence, claims that you can get anyone to say yes in eight minutes or less. Books like these are not scientific, and the claims they make don’t just border on the ridiculous, they ARE the ridiculous. Yes, people learn to become better at influencing, but to get anyone to do anything? In eight minutes or less? As I note in my book, if these claims were remotely reasonable, then why is there still conflict in the Middle East? People are more complicated than these authors imagine, and the claims they make on their book covers are good selling tools—but they’re false.
Morris: You refer to influence as an “art” but also suggest that there are elements of science involved when getting others to take one’s lead – to believe something wants them to think, or do something one wants them to do. Please explain.
Bacon: The art in influence comes in the ability to read others, intuit how they will respond to different forms of influence, build commonality and rapport with them, observe carefully and adapt as you interact with them. The science comes in understanding and applying the ten laws of influence, in knowing the different influence techniques and when to use them, and in studying the link between operating styles and influence effectiveness and using the principles gleaned from that study to more effectively influence people with different operating styles.
Morris: For those who have not as yet read the book, what are the “ten laws of influence”?
Bacon: First, I think it’s important to define influence. It is the art of getting others to follow your lead—to believe something you want them to believe, think in a way you want them to think, or do something you want them to do. All of us try to influence others every day. We try to persuade others to accept our point of view on a political candidate, or we try to get them to buy something or accept the price we’re willing to pay for something they are trying to sell to us. Whether you are arguing a point, making a proposal, interviewing for a job, or asking for a raise, you are trying to influence people. And leadership is entirely about influencing other people. The basic principles of influence are what I call the ten laws, and they are:
1. Influence attempts may fail for many legitimate reasons. No matter how skilled you are, you won’t be able to influence everyone all the time.
2. Influence is contextual. People won’t be influenced unless they have the latitude to say yes, unless saying yes is consistent with their interests and values, and unless they have an agreeable disposition.
3. Influence is often a process rather than an event. You won’t always succeed the first time, but if you persist you may eventually succeed.
4. Influence is cultural. People in different cultures often respond differently to the same influence technique.
5. Ethical influence is consensual and often bilateral.
6. Unethical influence may succeed—but always at a cost.
7. People respond best to the influence techniques they use themselves.
8. If you are observant, people will reveal what they find most influential.
9. Influence usually involves a mix of techniques.
10. The more power you have, the more influential you will be.
If you understand these fundamental laws, you will be more influential.
Morris: Which of the ten fundamentals do most people find most difficult to master? Why?
Bacon: Number 8. If you watch people carefully and note how they try to influence you or other people, you can discover how best to influence them (and this law is based on law number 7. A man who tries to influence you by giving you the logical reasons for doing something is likely to respond well to logic himself. A woman who tries to influence you by citing an authority will probably respond well to legitimizing (an influence technique that works by appealing to authority). I’ve seen people who know this intuitively, but I’ve also seen others who struggle with it. They’ll try to use logic, and when logic doesn’t work, they’ll try a different logical argument. When that doesn’t work (and they become frustrated), they’ll try more logic. Instead, they should pay attention to what the person they are trying to influence is most responsive to and adapt accordingly.
Morris: Can almost anyone master the skills needed to possess and exert great influence?
Bacon: Yes, but the first step is to build their power base. If you don’t have considerable power, you won’t be able to exert great influence. The next step is to build your influencing skills and then learning to adapt your technique to the person and the situation. For example, if I want to be capable of influencing a number of people at one time and inspiring them to action, I need to be very good at an influence technique called “appealing to values.” The power sources that make appealing to values effective are expressiveness (being a superb communicator), character (being considered honest and trustworthy), attraction (having people like me or want to be near me), and reputation (being well regarded in my organization or society). I also need to be highly skilled at conveying energy and enthusiasm, building rapport and trust with others, listening, appearing self-confident, and using a compelling tone of voice. Many people can improve their skills in these areas. The most influential people become masters at them. Becoming a real master at influencing others may take years, but if they apply themselves everyone can become more influential than they are now.
Terry R. Bacon is a Scholar in Residence in the Korn/Ferry Institute. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Lore International Institute. He has a B.S. in engineering from West Point and a PhD in literary studies from The American University. He has also studied business and leadership at Goddard College, Roosevelt University, University of Chicago, Wharton, Stanford, and Harvard. He is a prolific author and speaker, having written more than one hundred articles, white papers, and books, including Selling to Major Accounts, Winning Behavior, The Behavioral Advantage, Adaptive Coaching, Powerful Proposals, What People Want, and most recently, The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence (AMACOM, January 2011). Bacon’s next book Elements of Influence, will be published in July 2011.
He is chairman of the Fort Lewis College Foundation board and president of Music in the Mountains, a summer classical music festival in Durango, Colorado. During the last four years, Leadership Excellence has named him one of the top 100 thinkers on leadership in the world. You can learn more about him and his ideas and works at www.terryrbacon.com, www.theelementsofpower.com, or www.booksbyterryrbacon.com.
Morris: Before discussing your brilliant book, The Elements of Power, a few general questions. First, other than a family member, who has had the most influence on your personal development?
Bacon: A variety of teachers and mentors through the years. I couldn’t site one particular person. It’s more like a loose community of caring people. However, I found reading about the lives of Sir Thomas More and physicist Richard Feynman to be particularly inspirational for me.
Morris: On your professional development?
Bacon: Probably every author of every good book on leadership and business I’ve ever read, including Michael Useem, Dan Goleman, David Maister, Peter Drucker, John Kotter, Warren Bennis, Garry Wills, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, Michael Porter, James MacGregor Burns, and a host of others. I’m a voracious reader, and the key thoughts of those books stick with me.
Morris: To what extent did your education, training, and experience at the United States Military Academy prepare you for what awaited you, following active duty?
Bacon: The military academy had a profound effect on me. It taught me leadership, decision making, strategic thinking, responsibility, adaptability, integrity, and an engineer’s mindset, all of which helped me develop as a man and prepared me for the leadership roles I’ve played since active duty.
Morris: In your opinion, are business opportunities today better, worse, or about the same as they were (let’s say) ten years ago? Please explain.
Bacon: I think the opportunities today are the same as they were ten years, a hundred years ago, and a thousand years ago. Opportunity is what you create when you have the gumption to make something out of nothing, when you see possibilities others don’t, and when you are brazen enough to break with tradition and courageous enough to see it through. That existed long ago and it exists in abundance today.
Morris: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you began your business career years ago?
Bacon: I wish I’d known earlier in my career how to assess talent and select the best people for every job. And I wish I knew how to make the tough people decisions sooner. Businesses thrive when you have the right people in place and decay when you retain the wrong people. But making the tough calls is difficult for most younger managers/leaders, especially if you are a “people person.”
Morris: What is the primary mission of the Korn/Ferry Institute? How specifically does it fulfill that mission?
Bacon: The Institute’s mission is to develop and implement world-class intellectual property to improve our clients’ acquisition, development, and retention of top talent.
Morris: Most people I know claim that the most valuable lessons they learned were from personal experience; more specifically, from failure rather than from success. Is that also true of you? Please explain.
Bacon: Yes, I think you learn more from failures—if you actively seek to understand why they happened, avoid focusing on blame, and apply the lessons immediately. I’ve always told people that it’s okay to make mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t pushing yourself. But it’s not okay to make the same mistake twice. Mistakes and failures are acceptable as long as you learn from them and apply the lessons immediately to improve the business.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Terry Bacon cordially invites you to check out these websites:
To learn more about Music in the Mountains, please click here.
For more information about Fort Lewis College, please click here.
For more about the foundation, please lick here.
You can learn more about the Durango Arts Center by clicking here.
Here’s Terry Bacon’s response:
1. The value of versatility. “Throughout her life, Angelou has expl9red many facets of herself and has been able to integrate her perspectives to form a truly unique view of life and human experience. The lesson for business people: Don’t become too narrowly focused as you develop your knowledge and skills.”
2. The value of introspection. “In her life and through her art, Angelou has taken a deep look inside herself, and with the honesty with which she communicates what she’s learned makes her insights potent and meaningful. Much of her power comes from being an authentic leader. The lesson? An important part of the knowledge you need as a leader is self-knowledge. Daniel Goleman considers it an essential part of emotional intelligence.”
3. The value of spirituality. “At the heart of Angelou’s life and work is a deep sense of connectedness with the world and other human beings. She communicates the spirituality of being without insisting that it be religious. The lesson for the rest of us: Business does not exist in a vacuum. Business operates in a sociocultural web. An important way of knowing is to appreciate the interconnection s between your company and its products, your customers and their customers, your suppliers and their suppliers, your mission and values and those of every other culture in which you operate, and your processes and by-products and our global environment and its sustainability.”
I highly recommend The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as well as Bacon’s The Elements of Power, published by AMACOM (2011)
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Terry Bacon is President and CEO of Lore International Institute and a recognized expert in talent management, consulting, executive coaching, behavioral differentiation, and business development. He is a prolific author, having written or co-written more than eighty books, research reports, and white papers, including What People Want, Winning Behavior: What the Smartest, Most Successful Companies Do Differently, Adaptive Coaching, and The Behavioral Advantage. He cordially invites you to visit www.LoreNet.com.