Several books claim they will teach you the most important in business or life skills. Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Grenny, Patterson, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzer is one of the few I’ve read that comes close to that common, yet outrageous, claim. The authors say that their book:

“explores how to achieve profoundly better results in everything from the nuclear family to nuclear power plants by changing human habits that can be extraordinarily difficult to alter.”

The book is filled with engaging stories of dramatic change. What can overcome drug addiction? Redeem people from gang life? Correct a culture where most people are afraid to tell the truth to their boss? Reverse generations of spousal abuse? The authors believe they have the answer and they share it in granular detail.

Your problems and mine are not this severe. Many of us have spent years trying to hone our skills or gain some legitimate edge. This book is about how to make changes that matter.

The major ideas are:
* focus on and measure on exactly what results you seek;
* find the few vital behaviors which disproportionately drive results, and;
* engage all six sources of influence.

Effective influencers “over-determine” change by using all the six sources of influence. The authors devote two-thirds of the book to a simple three by two grid of the six factors: the personal, social and structural influences of motivation and ability to perform. Here’s a sketch of the grid.

The authors share examples from for-profit and nonprofit organizations, from first, second, and third world cultures. The implication is these principles are effective in most organizational settings.

The authors contend that even for large and complex problems a few well-chosen influence factors make a huge difference. Each challenge is unique, but the authors provide enough examples to spark ideas that will work for you.

Their approach seems comprehensive. Their background indicates that they have worked with scores, maybe hundreds, of organizations, possibly for more than a generation.

My spouse and my team almost forbid me from learning about new or different ways to improve our team. I keep coming up with new things and try to explain the ideas. Often, the idea that was so clear in my mind becomes a confused tangle coming out of my mouth.

The Influencer strategy is easy to understand and use. It is comprehensive enough to deliver superior results in a variety of organizations. I’m eager to apply many of the practices so we can obtain significantly better results for clients and ourselves with little additional cost. That sounds like alchemy, but the authors have a proven record of sustained superior results. They’ve convinced me.

Read the book. Try what the authors suggest. I’ll do the same. Let me know how it works for you. Then we can share insights and results.

I’ll tell you about our effort to boost results with a clearer focus on the results we want and our team’s few vital behaviors. Perhaps a year from now both your work group and mine will be substantially better off because of Influencer.


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.