Harvard Business Review: Connect, Then Lead

Whether we’re training pundits to go on air or crafting messaging on a difficult issue, our work draws on the latest academic research and best practices from the field. Our analysis begins with a deep understanding of how individuals are perceived by their audiences—which is essential for enabling progressive leaders to tell their stories and make their ideas compelling.

In “Connect, Then Lead,”  (Harvard Business Review cover story July/August 2013), Franklin Forum president John Neffinger, and media/message trainer Matthew Kohut partnered with Harvard Business School professor (and TED rock star) Amy Cuddy to shed new light on the old debate over whether it’s better to be feared or loved as a leader. Machiavelli famously said that, because it’s impossible to do both, leaders should opt for fear. The latest science points to a different conclusion: that leaders would do well to establish trust first.

Most leaders today approach their jobs by emphasizing competence, strength, and credentials. But without first building a foundation of trust, they run the risk of eliciting fear, resentment, or envy. Beginning with warmth allows trust to develop, facilitating both the exchange and the acceptance of ideas—people really hear your message and become open to it. Cultivating warmth and trust also boosts the quantity and quality of novel ideas that are produced.

The best way to gain influence is to combine warmth and strength—as difficult as Machiavelli says that may be to do. This premise informs each training we host and each message we craft.

Full Harvard Business Review article here.