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Author's profile photo Jason Cao

Coach’s Corner – Why Persuasion is Better Than Force (Part 1)

One day, the North Wind and the Sun were hanging out together, admiring the beautiful land that we all call home. They watched a man wearing a cloak walk over the grassy field, when the North Wind suddenly had an idea. “Why don’t we see which one of us is stronger, and get that cloak off the man?” The Wind started by taking a deep breath, then let out the coldest and strongest stream of air directly at the man. The man’s cloak almost flew off his back, but the man shivered and clung to his cloak, wrapping it even tighter around his head and body. Now exhausted, the North Wind yielded to the Sun to take a turn. With eyes closed, the Sun concentrated and started to beam a glow of light that quickly warmed the land below. The man began to feel the heat of the bright Sun, and as sweat rolled down his face, decided to take off his robe.

Photo%20by%20Federico%20Respini%20on%20Unsplash

Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

Many of you will recognize this as one of Aesop’s many fables. The moral of this story is “persuasion is better than force.” It applies to many aspects of our lives – none more noticeable these days than to leadership.

Whether leading a team, an organization or a country, the use of force for achieving goals is an archaic and defunct form of leadership that should no longer exist, and should not be tolerated by those being led, because in the long run it does more harm than good. Furthermore, this ineffectual style of ‘command and control’ reveals a lack of compassion in the leader because it doesn’t care about the needs and interests of those they lead. When leaders use force instead of persuasion, it shows a sub-par capacity for leadership learning. Not all displays of command and control need to be overt flexes of authority such that it strikes fear in our hearts and minds. Some leaders may passive-aggressively put up roadblocks – by leaning on tools such as red-tape, approvals and legal compliance and repercussions to maintain authority and control. (“No, you can’t do that until all these items are checked off first.”)

Not all harm is intentional. So how do we combat the use of leadership by force, whether we see it in others or in ourselves?

  1. Educate ourselves – Let’s ask ourselves what’s needed to be productive and sustainable. What’s right? And what’s wrong? In our Information Age, we need to filter out the relevant from the superfluous, while also distinguishing the truth from the lies. When we start learning about our and others’ needs, we start to develop a growth mindset that increases our capacity to apply other leadership tools, such as persuasion.
  2. Call out bad behaviours such as bullying, harassment and other forms of subjugation. It takes courage to speak out or admit errors in judgement. Although speaking out happens ‘after-the-fact,’ it is certainly better than not speaking up at all. Likewise, an apology may not fix the harm. However, when done sincerely, it is a great start! Some people might tell you calling out bad behaviour is self-serving, and it may feel this way. In truth, you’re benefiting many around you because it is the first step to rebuilding trust, culture, a country.

 

Think this blogpost is not complete, because I haven’t talked about persuasion yet? Please follow the Coach’s Corner blog series, where I’ll share some tips I’ve learned from leaders about persuasion in Part 2.

PEACE out!

 

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      12 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Allen Wang
      Allen Wang

      Great insights, thanks for sharing, Jason.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for reading the post, Allen!

      Author's profile photo Eda Yang
      Eda Yang

      Nice Sharing!

      Cannot wait to read your next blog. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Eda! I split this post up so it would not be too long. Planning to post Part 2 next week.

      Thanks for reading! 😀

      Author's profile photo Viviane Zufferey
      Viviane Zufferey

      Awesome example to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing, Jason.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for reading the post, Viviane! 🙂

      Author's profile photo Angeline Joyce Fondevilla
      Angeline Joyce Fondevilla

      This is absolutely a great read! More people should read this, especially during these times. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing, Jason.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for your comment Angeline!

      These times are full of learning experiences, indeed. While some events require pause and reflection, others require action and advocacy.

      Author's profile photo Arpit Kumar
      Arpit Kumar

      Great Part I & II Jason Cao. More people should definitely read this with remote working.

      Though based on my experience in an environment of "as you called it" - Force, "Calling Out Bad Behavior" only hurts. I have done both by staying silent/side stepping it and call out and the latter turned out too bad. For me to lose lot of faith in the whole process.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Arpit,

      Thank you for your feedback and for your comment!

      I'm sorry to hear about your negative experience with speaking up, and calling out unacceptable behaviour. Unfortunately, negative consequences coming from speaking up happens much too often. It is not you, but the leader and the culture the leader creates.

      My only wish is that you don't lose faith in the greater value of this process - that as people, we want to be respected and valued for our expertise and judgement. Any leader, team or organization that cannot uphold this principle will be left behind by those they rely on, and ultimately they do not deserve you.

      Author's profile photo Arpit Kumar
      Arpit Kumar

      Jason,

      I always debate internally whether to do it or not - whether to "call out or not". And it becomes a conversation of "some battles you fight, some battles you skip".

      Thanks for still sharing this. Loved your Coach's Corner.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Yes, you are right! Assessing the situation is always a wise move. I'm a big believer that context is just as if not more important than content. 🙂