The ability to change minds to accept and embrace innovation and change is one of the toughest tasks facing school leaders every day. The key, as David Maxfield, co-author of the bestseller, Influencer: The Power To Change Anything, explains, is learning how to influence colleagues and staff. In this interview, Maxfield outlines the strategies you need to follow to create the rapid and permanent changes you desire in the workplace and in your personal life. The following is an abridged version of our interview with Maxfield.
Q: Can you begin by talking about the role of influence in creating positive change?
David Maxfield: Often people think influence is, “How do I get a person to say yes?” Let’s say a student is not doing his homework. You have a good relationship with him. You sit him down, you have a “crucial conversation” and he says, “Yup, I’ll do it from now on.” Well, that’s persuasion! He said, “Yes.”
But how are you going to influence the child to live up to that commitment? So, what we look at with influence is not short-term compliance. We look at long-term commitment. How do you deal with stubborn habits, established norms, organizational culture, and entrenched bureaucracy?
Q: How do your ideas about influence differ from those in so many other books?
David Maxfield: What’s really different is that it’s the long term versus the short
term. Sometimes you’ll look at a technique of persuasion that gets the person to say “yes,” but afterward, they feel manipulated. None of those manipulative techniques are going to work in our kind of influence. We want long-term commitment. Manipulation will backfire every time.