Engaging and Influencing Others

Here you will find a list of books that I recommend on my Stakeholder Engagement Workshop.

The first is my own book, Practical People Engagement: Leading Change Through the Power of Relationships. Published in 2013, this was immediately adopted as the core curriculum for an international qualification in stakeholder engagement. It all began with my work in researching high-performance behaviours of programme and project managers. One of the key differentiators was that, unlike the emphasis in most project management books and software tools, these high-performers spent much more time moving towards people. So I needed to know more. In the process, I found material that I put into this book.

Switch: How to change things when change is hard, by Chip and Dan Heath is a very clear route map of the whole change challenge. This particular work helped me to see the breakthrough power of positive deviants, “Bright Spots” as the Heath brothers call them. Also, the way they explain the power of emotions over reason was very powerful, so much so, that it lead to me identifying “Emotions trump reason” as a key principle in stakeholder engagement. Don’t expect people to act rationally, however well-educated they might appear.

Daniel Pinks’ To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing, and Influencing Others, really opened my eyes to the whole science of selling as being much more relevant – and palatable – than I had ever realised. Pink always writes beautifully clearly, with punchy relevance. Selling, and indeed negotiation, can and should be done with honour. This book helps show that the sleazy social stereotype of selling is very limiting. Also, there is a selling part in whatever role or function we have. So we might as well accept that and get better at it.

Robert Cialdini’s classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion can be easily overlooked. This would be a mistake. There is such a potent set of drivers in human behaviour that Cialdini illustrates here from research examples. For example, Reciprocity – I do something for you and you are more likely to do something for me in return – is an unlikely dynamic in human relationships, but it seems to work again and again. Others, such as Social Proof, are now commonly understood. I even had an estate agent’s (realtor) letter referencing it recently.

Full disclosure: I was one of the contributing authors on this one: The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook: Essential Guidance to the Change Management Body of Knowledge. Commissioned to illustrate the Change Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge, this in one of the most comprehensive books I know of the diverse field of change management – and engaging stakeholders is rightly central to it. In my own book, the Change Agent’s hat is a key one. So if you want a standard reference to Change Management, you could a lot worse than invest in this book.

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