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What is Persuasive Management?

Man giving management presentation in front of a large whiteboard.

There are a number of different management styles – autocratic, laissez-faire, and consultative leadership. All of which have their pros and cons, but there is another effective management style you might not be familiar with, Persuasive Management.

Persuasive management bears one major resemblance to the autocratic or authoritarian leadership styles in that, at the end of the day, you call the shots.

The two styles differ in their approach, however, as while autocratic managers will simply tell their team what to do, a persuasive manager will try to convince them that it is the best way forward.

When is it Persuasive Management effective?

Persuasive management is not as widely applicable as other management styles and is often left out of the discussion entirely. Despite this, persuasive management can be very effective in the two following scenarios.

1. When you’re the expert. 

Persuasive management is most effective when used in situations where you know more about the subject matter than the team you’re leading. As the leader and instigator, it’s important that you can effectively communicate your thoughts, your plan and why this is a good, and exciting, idea.

As the expert, it’s likely you are leading the project or team, but without the help of your team, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do all the necessary work.

Persuading your team that your ideas are good and that the work they are doing matters will instil passion in them, and yield much better results.

2. When you’re managing upwards 

Persuasive management can also be a very effective tactic when managing upwards. As an expert in your field, you may be called upon to provide your professional insight and opinion – which can be daunting if you don’t know what approach is appropriate.

In such cases, you need to convince people who are more senior than you that they can trust your judgement. If you practice persuasive management it’ll make the entire process much easier, and you’ll have the best chance of getting the reaction you want from your more senior colleagues.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Persuasive management has a lot of potential. Whether or not this potential works in your favour depends heavily on you as an individual, and hinges primarily on your personality and persuasive powers.

If you can manage to persuade your team to back your way of thinking, persuasive management has a lot to offer.

The biggest potential advantages of persuasive management are:

  • The ability to make quick decisions and increase productivity
  • No confusion as to the corporate hierarchy or decision-making process
  • Creative and professional freedom
  • A better reaction than you would get with alternative styles, such as autocracy
  • A passionate team

However, fail to persuade your team and this style has the potential to work against you.

The negatives of persuasive management:

Since you are the bona fide expert, you’re expected to make decisions and plans that work. On top of that, it is your job to get your team to believe in your ideas and carry out the work to a particular standard.

Regardless of whether your plan was flawed, or your team didn’t support you, if the end result isn’t satisfactory, the blame falls to you.

Persuasive management is not a style for every situation, and it is certainly not a style for everyone. In order to effectively implement it, you need to be knowledgeable, trustworthy, compelling, and passionate.

Without building the relationship with your team on a foundation of trust, this management style has little to no chance of success but if you can establish such a relationship, persuasive management can be a very effective and rewarding approach.

As the world of work evolves, and the focus on innovation and curiosity increases, the value of being able to persuade or influence others that your ideas are good and worthwhile becomes more and more important. Prepare, be passionate and work with your team to get the very best results.

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This blog was originally posted in 2017. It has since been updated and reposted.