Invisible Persuasion as a Leadership Tool

You've heard that it's easier to catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right? Nina DiSesa, in her book Seducing the Boys Club: Uncensored Tactics from a Woman at the Top, shows how to apply similar tactics to getting ahead in business.

Nina worked her way up in the very male-dominated world of advertising, often as one of the first female creative directors at a firm. She learned to do this with what she calls S&M: seduction and manipulation, which is also called "invisible persuasion" in the advertising world.

Basically, if you make people feel good about themselves or show them that something is in their best interest, they'll go along with you. If you like them and make them look good, they'll start to like you. My husband called this "enlightened self interest."

Nina stresses that S&M should only be used for the good, as in making the man a better person and the company a better place. For example, when she started working at a company where no one got along, she'd only share the good that was relayed and even exaggerate it to get people to be more inclined to think well of each other and work together. Over time she taught macho men to show emotion and be more collaborative by practicing this herself and by showing them how it made them better as a team.

Nina shares all of this, along with many funny asides, making reading about her trials and tribulations both amusing and inspiring. Her lessons on how to protect the male ego while persuading them to do things your way, how to convert the testosterone-driven boys to be loyal followers, and how to do all of this while balancing innately feminine leadership traits while not being a pushover are something any ambitious woman should read and learn from.

And although I'm not sure that I'm either skilled or brave enough to pull off S&M quite how Nina does it, I now recognize that both humor and even the occasional flattery are leadership skills when used to help one's team through difficult situations. 

Have you ever used persuasion at work? How did you use it, for what cause, and did it work?

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