By Bradford Thomas
Months in advance my wife had circled the calendar for the date that “The King’s Speech” opened in theaters—I mean “theatres” since this is an English film. I could say it’s her desire to feel high-brow or to add culture to our lives, but in reality it is because of her infatuation with Colin Firth.
I have to say that this is an inspiring movie which should land Mr. Firth an Academy Award for his portrayal of Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI. What made it inspiring to me is the dynamic between the two main characters—King George VI and Lionel Logue, a speech therapist deftly played by Geoffrey Rush.
You see, the King has a debilitating stammer and has turned to Logue for help. Logue’s challenge is to convince a very prideful and assertive King to do some very unconventional and less than royal things—such as wobbling his cheeks back and forth and firing off a series of four-letter words. Logue is effective because he is able tailor his approach with the King. He cuts through the “King and His Subject” relationship by refusing to call him “His Majesty.” Instead, Logue calls the King by his childhood nickname “Bertie.”
In a pivotal scene, Logue casually sits on the ancestral throne at Westminster Abbey as a way to goad Bertie into speaking with a loud and angry voice. What Logue demonstrates with these tactics is a mastery of gaining commitment.
The key to gaining commitment is using interpersonal skills and persuasion to involve and convince others to take action. This is a very difficult behavior for new leaders in particular to master. In fact, DDI found that 52% of frontline leaders aren't as strong at gaining the committment of others as they need to be.
Think about how effective you are at influencing others in your personal and private lives—whether it is your friends or family, your direct reports or manager. Here are a few tips that can go a long way towards gaining commitment:
- Sell them the WIIFM (What’s in it for ME). Help them see how they would personally benefit from your idea.
- Tailor your approach. Everyone has different motivations, perspectives and hot buttons—you need to figure out what these are and adapt your interactions accordingly.
- It’s easier to row with everyone in the boat. People tend to feel ownership of decisions when they feel that they’ve been heard. If you involve everyone in the discussion from the beginning, they will be more likely to be receptive—and even an advocate for your ideas.
If an Australian speech therapist can wield the power of persuasion over a King, just imagine what you could do.
Bradford Thomas is a Product Manager at Development Dimensions International, Inc. (DDI)