Your Superpower – Part 1
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

You have heard me say on many occasions that leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. But how do we influence people? When President Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces he said, “Leadership is the art of getting other people to do what you want done, but because they want to do it.” President Eisenhower was right. So, how do we do that? How can we get people to do what we want them to and make it their idea? It’s called Influence.

Recently I listened to the February 15th episode of the Ed Mylett Show podcast. Ed was interviewing Dr. Zoe Chance, a Yale School of Management professor. She had just released her book Influence is Your Superpower. Her relaxed style of delivering the results of years of research intrigued me. Before long, the podcast piqued my interest, and without even realizing it, she had influenced me to buy her book. Let’s dive in and see a little bit of what I learned.

In her book, Dr. Chance describes the two systems in our brains: the Gator Brain and the Judge Brain. Let’s start with the Gators. Alligators have a body that can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, and it is controlled by a tablespoon size brain. This prehistoric creature, or at least its crocodile cousin, can live for over three years without eating. It doesn’t waste any energy wrestling with decisions or making unnecessary movements. As humans, our Gator Brains make almost all of our decisions. These decisions are unconscious, fast, intuitive, and automatic. When faced with something that doesn’t make sense, it sends the decision to the Judge Brain. The Judge Brain is very conscious of what is happening. It reacts to uncertainty by making slow, deliberate decisions. This process takes a lot of effort and consumes a lot of resources.

Now you are wondering what this has to do with influence. If we want people to do what we want done, we need to appeal to their Gator Brain. We need to frame the decisions they are facing in a way that the choice is so obvious that they choose without sending it to the Judge Brain for analysis. The options need to be almost automatic, and when they are – we have influenced them to select our choice. Next week we will look at another key factor in influencing others.

If you would like to learn more about influence, please join Marisa Norcross and me for episode 247 of The Next Page podcast. We will disucss the five tools that allow us to interact with the Gator Brain and reveal the Magic Question.

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