TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, BRITISH POP DUO TEARS FOR FEARS RELEASED their hit song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I remembered that song five years later when a senior human resources manager at a division of General Electric asked me to develop an educational program on influence effectiveness. She felt that many of the employees she was responsible for were not skilled at influencing upward or laterally within their matrix organization and were not nearly as persuasive as they needed to be with customers. “Many of them don’t have strong enough presence,” she said, “and they aren’t good at getting their ideas across. They can’t read audiences and don’t know how to adapt to them. All they do is tell customers about the features of our ...

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