Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change

30 Oct 2014

Influencer: The New Science of Leading ChangeInfluencer: The New Science of Leading Change by Joseph Grenny; Kerry Patterson; David Maxfield; Ren McMillan; Al Switzler
ISBN: 9780071808866

Review by Tara Rivkin

Stephen Covey sums this book up when he says: “Whether you are leading change or changing your life, this book delivers”. Ideas, when coupled with influence can change communities and can change the world. Researched through the insights of behavioural scientists, business leaders and coupled with stories from people from all walks of life who have created change and changed behaviours, the authors say that there are three keys to success and six sources of influence that one must harness…

Usually, when I read a book with a title like Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, I assume the book will focus solely on how to do this in the corporate world. However, as I began reading, I realised that this book was different to what I consider the norm in this genre. Rather than only exhibiting interviews with, anecdotes about, and research into corporate leaders and how they are ‘ínfluencers,’ this book casts a wide net.

Early on in the book, I came across well-chosen examples from a variety of fields. What has New York restaurateur Danny Meyer done to cultivate a unique, tailored customer experience across all of his restaurants? How has Rich Sheridan, co-owner of Menlo Innovations, inspired his software designers to work so well with each other and to always meet their deadlines? And to love their work? How has Wiwat Rojanapithayokorn prevented over 5 million Thai citizens from contracting HIV/AIDS? How does Ethna Reid turn around low-performing schools in less than a year?

In addition to reading more than 17 000 articles and books on the topic of influence and change, the authors studied these exceptionally interesting individuals—and many, many more—to find commonalities. In fact, they crossed the world in their quest to understand why some people are able to influence behaviour and HOW they do it. As they write at the beginning of the book meeting and observing Danny Meyer, the New York restaurateur,

It wasn’t the most harrowing research junket we had ever taken. Nothing like earlier adventures in our influencer research to some of the more dangerous parts of the world. No threat of deadly parasites, no confrontation with aggressive panhandlers, no fear of being kidnapped, no wrangling with corrupt politicians.

Their wild ride makes for a genuinely absorbing look into what people who create change and change behaviours do. The three keys to success and the six sources of influence that one must harness are a logical roadmap to influence and change that can be adapted and applied across fields. I know I will be applying what I have read to mine.