Baker's 4 Strategies of Influence
Using Logic and Emotion to Change People's Thinking
How do you influence others?
African-American rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King Jnr moved a generation of people with his great speech, "I have a dream... " And British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was well known for her rousing calls to action, too. But, according to leadership development and change management consultant Dr Tim Baker, one of these people is a "motivating" influencer and the other is a "calculating" influencer. Can you guess which one is which?
"Influence" is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen." Dr Baker expands on this in his book, The New Influencing Toolkit. He says that influence is about persuading people to think and act differently, in ways that benefit themselves, their manager, their organization, and, ultimately, their customer. It doesn't mean manipulation or trickery. Influence, in Dr Baker's view, must be done ethically.
What Are the 4 Strategies of Influence?
Dr Baker's influencing framework, shown in figure 1 below, describes four strategies of influence: Investigation, Calculation, Motivation, and Collaboration. Each of these combines either a Push or a Pull style with either a Logical or an Emotional approach.
A Push style is a direct, assertive way of getting your point across, while a Pull style is an indirect, subtle way of persuading others. And to influence Logically, you'll use facts and rational argument to make your case, while, with the Emotional approach, you "tug at people's heartstrings” to get your way.
Each of these strategies can be highly effective in the right circumstances.
Figure 1. Baker's Influencing Framework
Let's take a closer look at the four strategies:
Investigation (Push, Logical)
If you are an Investigator, you'll use powerful facts and figures, charts and graphs, to advance your argument strongly. You'll likely be methodical and structured in your approach. Former U.S. vice president Al Gore demonstrated this strategy in his campaign for action against climate change.
Calculation (Pull, Logical)
As a Calculator, you'll prefer to promote the positive aspects of a proposal, and to highlight the weaknesses in the current position. People know where they stand with calculators. Calculators use clear logic to advance their cause and are generally good debaters. Margaret Thatcher was a Calculator, renowned for her ability to convince in both one-on-one media interviews and parliamentary debates.
Motivation (Push, Emotional)
If you are a Motivator, you'll likely be a "big picture” thinker who is able to link a cause with a compelling vision of the future. Motivators often have a way with words, and can create a simple and convincing "dream” that brings people along with them. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr was the model of an inspiring Motivator.
Collaboration (Pull, Emotional)
Collaborators are great team builders. They engage people's hearts and minds by using emotion and by involving them in the decision. Missionary Mother Teresa was a Collaborator, attracting people from around the world to join her in alleviating poverty.
Which one of these influencing strategies seems most similar to your own preferred style and approach? The key is to be able to use all four of them as appropriate – at the right time, in the right way, with the right people, for the right cause.
How Can You Apply the 4 Strategies?
Let's imagine a scenario involving an IT manager, Jimmy, and his team. They're spending the week training another department's managers for a software implementation plan. Gradually, Jimmy finds out that:
- There is stiff opposition to adopting the new software.
- Problems arose during the software's pilot and they haven't been addressed.
- Many people are wondering why Jimmy's department didn't deal with the issues or "kill” the project before it got this far.
- Meanwhile, the HR department is replacing some similar software after hearing that the vendor will no longer support it.
- Jimmy's team member Lyn is to be seconded to HR.
Jimmy's unit provides a critical function for the organization and this software, although it may not be perfect, is vital to his department's mission. So he's keen to implement it. He could use all four strategies to influence his colleagues to support the project:
Jimmy decides to speak to other people in the organization, to gauge how widespread the opposition to this software really is. He also talks to another organization that has used it successfully. And he calls up Lyn to hear her expert view on HR's decision. Now he can gather the facts, and put forward a logical and coherent case for implementation.
Jimmy understands the risks of continuing with the current system, which has limited application for the future. He's also identified three compelling reasons why the new software should be implemented. He argues his case with everyone that he meets, based on the new system's advantages over the existing one.
He believes that the organization could become the leader in its industry by using the new software, so he starts to share an emotive vision of what such success would look like. Jimmy also explains that the business really needs a more sophisticated software program than it currently has to achieve this vision.
Lastly, Jimmy works closely with several key stakeholders across the organization and forms a high-powered project team. During regular meetings with this team, he listens actively to the concerns that people raise, and he adopts a collaborative, problem-solving approach.
According to Dr Tim Baker, you can ethically influence your co-workers, managers, organization, and customers by choosing the appropriate strategy from his Framework:
- Investigation is a Push Logical strategy.
- Calculation is a Pull Logical strategy.
- Motivation is a Push Emotional strategy.
- Collaboration is a Pull Emotional strategy.
Apply This to Your Life
Are you currently preparing to persuade people in your organization to support your project, perhaps by giving a presentation about it to a large group of influential colleagues?
You need to convince them to take a certain course of action. So you begin your presentation by giving your audience the facts in a logical, structured and coherent way (you're being an Investigator). The audience knows you have a command of the situation.
You then explain your proposal's advantages and the disadvantages of remaining with the status quo (as a Calculator). The audience can see the distinction between moving ahead and staying still.
You then link your proposal to the organization's strategic direction (Motivator). The audience can see the "big picture."
And, finally, you engage the audience in a Q&A session (Collaborator). It now feels involved in the proposal.