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Successful product managers wield influence and this is how they get it.
Influence and persuasion is a core competency of successful product managers. It is also something that most product managers want more of — influence. You need it to get others to support your ideas and plans for improving products and making great new products. You also need it to make a larger impact on the organization.
To make that happen, you need to understand and apply the six principles of influence. The person you would want to talk with is Dr. Matt Barney. He has over 25 years of experience leading the science and technology of leader development in senior global roles at multinationals such as Infosys, AT&T/Lucent Technologies, and Motorola. He is also the only Ph.D. Industrial-Organizational Psychologist to earn the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer certification, demonstrating his expertise in influence and persuasion.
And that is why he is talking with us now, so you can improve your influence and have more impact on your organization.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:05] What is your leadership philosophy?
True leadership is not about being the boss. It’s about convincing people to follow you because your message is so compelling. The best leaders don’t use power as much as they use influence. The best product managers figure out how to convince their audience, rather than forcing them into doing something.
[6:07] What are the principles of influence?
Influence is an interpersonal process and there are three principles that deepen our relationships: reciprocity, liking, and unity. Once you have established a relationship, two other principles come into play: consensus and authority. Product managers should focus on authority. Everyone wants to follow the guidance of credible experts, and we need to become credible to gain influence. Finally, there are two principles to motivate action: consistency and scarcity. All of these principles are best done proactively. You need to have these tools at your disposal so you’re ready to use them when you need them. They seem simple, but require practice and real-world applications to work well.
[14:32] How do you build influence?
Doing homework is key. Look for things about that person you can praise, or things you have in common to break the ice. Praise can start reciprocity and cause people to like us as long as it’s sincere and genuine. You can’t always do that ahead of time, but you can listen carefully in the moment and proactively look for ways to connect and praise them. We like to work with people we like and who like us. That happens whenever we build connections and uncover shared values and goals.
[20:20] What the relationship between group participation and trust?
This goes back to families and small groups working together for survival. For WWII, Jews and Japanese ended up becoming allies because they were united against the Nazis. The more groups you are part of, the more likely you are to build trust among others. This applies to the workplace and non-work organizations like churches and sports leagues.
[22:13] How do you build consensus?
By doing the homework, you can find out what the people you’re trying to influence value and tailor your message to them. When people are unsure about disruption, the social proof becomes very relevant. However, you can’t draw on that proof unless you know who the person you’re trying to influence follows or finds credible.
[26:29] How do we improve our credibility?
Testimonials, awards, and credentials are all great examples social proof that you can use to build credibility. They show that third parties recognize the work you’re doing and demonstrate a sense of expertise. This is especially important for individual contributors like product managers. However, it’s not all about credentials. You also need to be able to proactively admit something that’s weak or a limitation you have. This builds trust and allows you to turn lemons into lemonade.
- Leadership development with LeaderAmp
- Matt’s influence work with Influence At Work
“Pain + Reflection = Progress.” -Ray Dalio
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.