(This is one in a serie of articles applying Robert B. Caldini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion on CEOs’ Thought Leadership).
Cialdini’s 6th Principal Of Persuasion – “Consensus/Social Proof”
To a very large extent, “Social Proof” is connected with the herd mentality. It’s based on the psychology that there is safety in numbers. Being part of a mass is reassuring as you’re heading in the same direction as everybody else, rather than opting to go against the flow. Friction is at its lowest. Likelihood that you may be right is high and the energy that is required to fight for your case is low. People instinctively follow the example of their peers and especially those peers who seem to have a leadership quality about them.
Following in the footsteps of such pioneers as Martin Luther King in the 1960’s, Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In is more than just a book. It’s meant to be a movement and has been carefully and cleverly designed to get traction in the business world on the issue of gender equality in the workplace. Structurally, Sandberg is a charismatic leader, has a good cause and the outcome of it is relevant for most (if not ALL) of us. And psychologically, as more and more people (both men and women) buy in to her key messages, a critical mass will be there to persuade the other that gender equality is a laudable and attainable goal that could, should and will be pursued. In other words, people are less persuaded by Sandberg’s arguments but more because they do not want to be seen as a dinosaur or a social “misfit”.
Consensus brings allies and ambassadors. Peer power is just as effective online as it is in the real world – and you can use it to your advantage. As CEO, a very effective way for you to be persuasive online is to identify the movers and shakers in your industry and where they are interacting with your target audience online. Seek out these leaders, endorse what they are doing and what they are saying and, at the same time, be effective in getting your own perspective as a thought leader and your vision across to them – then you will find that they will very quickly become your powerful allies and they will be capable of winning over huge numbers of people to your corner.