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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 09-Sep-11


Friday 09-September-11

Presenting values

I went to a business presentation a while ago where a new senior manager was setting out the way forward. It was generally pretty good but his communication of values was particularly noteworthy.

He started off by putting up a quote about sacrifice in war and asked us to quietly read it. He then told how he had seen this in a World War 2 cemetery in El Alamein in North Africa, and how it had deeply moved him, particularly when looking at all those rows of graves of soldiers, many of whom were younger than him. He then moved on to a slide with a list of things that were important to him, linking many to that personal revelation in the cemetery. This included things like working hard towards worthy goals, respect for one another and so on.

What brilliant psychology! The mood of the country was very supportive of the armed forces and criticism was consequently impossible. I'd guess many even self-censored as they got hooked into the message.

A curse of understanding persuasion is that you are never persuaded, though perhaps I was here a little as I think that, despite the devices, the guy believed in a lot of what he was saying. His body language was aligned, and unless he was a great actor too, he was feeling what he was saying.

Your comments

Brilliant psychology indeed. Linking values to a source that, whilst not indisputable, is very unlikely to be disputed and the appearance of being a congruent individual would seem to be the pattern of persuasion. I'm wondering if this also made him a likeable and attractive individual, someone you would like to know better?

-- Graham J.

Dave replies:
Having spotted the techniques used, I wasn't so sure about him. In fact later he turned out to be not so nice.

Always interesting how business and sport attempt to co-opt values shown at the extremes: in war the questions are life and death, and perhaps survival of the nation a culture and people one loves. By comparison, the questions in business and sport are at the level of mere convenience, or inconvenience, in most cases.

If this fellow wanted to drive values in the organisation, he could start with his own behaviour towards people he worked with (irrespective of their position in the abstraction of hierarchy): that would communicate and establish a value structure.

Interestingly, I've just read your piece on the difference between managers and leaders; you've called this fellow a 'manager' but he's arguably doing 'leadership' albeit manipulative. Thus showing up the failure of the distinction, perhaps.

-- David

Interestingly, I've just read your piece on the difference between managers and leaders; you've called this fellow a 'manager' but he's arguably doing 'leadership' albeit manipulative. Thus showing up the failure of the distinction, perhaps.

-- Nanay

Dave replies:
Fair point, Nanay. It's always a blurry line. The guy was a senior manager and in what we tend to call 'a leadership position'. The only real measure of a leader is if they have followers. The truth is that all deliberate influence is manipulative. The problem with the word 'manipulative', though, is that we add a connotation of it being somehow bad. Yet we all do it, most days. The major difference between good and bad manipulation is whether it has selfish or altruistic intent.

In this case, the guy was probably trying to align people to an organizational purpose (it was a government education agency), which seems ok. For me, though, he was ineffective as it was a bit too obvious and 'me' based (he was selling himself rather than the vision).

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