New Executive Program: The art of influencing others

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Greece May 2009 155

Peter Thompson 

Soon after the Global Financial Crisis dealt a stunning blow to the Greek economy, I was wandering in the brilliant new Parthenon Museum in Athens.  There, I was accosted by a total stranger, who was adamant about getting her view across to me.  “The Greeks gave the world everything,” she started.  “Art, sculpture, literature, drama, democracy”, and so she went on.  “But, what does the world give back to Greece?”  “Nothing, nothing” she concluded.

She might have added to her legacy list that the Greeks gave future generations an understanding of the art of influencing.  And, even in this world of hyper-communication, where ideas and opinions are traded instantly and pervasively through the new and social media, the art of influencing and persuading hasn’t changed.

In fact, more than ever, the ability to influence others is a core competency of public service leaders.

On September 7th and 8th, in Canberra, ANZSOG is conducting a two day executive program focusing on influencing. Designed with senior public service leaders and managers in mind, the workshop brings together a crackerjack faculty.  Sharing their insights will be Peter Shergold (Chancellor of UWS and former Head of Prime Minister and Cabinet), Gary Banks (Dean of ANZSOG), Professor John Alford (ANZSOG) and Karen Sewell (former Secretary of Education in New Zealand). The content will harness the great depth of experience of the faculty.  Peter Shergold will examine how to carry a reform agenda.  Gary Banks will explore the role of evidence in decision making.  John Alford will focus on strategy.  And, Karen Sewell will draw from her years as a prominent public service CEO to mentor the group.

As well as leading the seminar, it is my role to frame the methodologies of influencing.  For that, we go back to the legacy of the ancient Greek world.  Aristotle taught that influential communicators framed arguments with pathos, ethos and logos.  We must be able to step inside the shoes of those we are seeking to persuade.  As Aristotle declared, “a fool tells me his reasons.  A wise man persuades me with my own.”

Sign up quickly for the ride.  You will go home with a mind full of ideas and practical methods to influence others more effectively.